April 21, 2017

Olympic swimmer (London 2012) and 3 time World Championship medallist, Daniela Schreiber shares her story of becoming an Olympian with Aditya Mendonca in this week’s The Good City Podcast.

The accolades of this German Olympian are impressive: She’s won three gold, two silver and five bronze medals at European & World Championships mostly in the 4 x 50 m and 4×100 m freestyle relays, between 2009 and 2012. She’s competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in the 100 m, 4×100 m and 4×200 m freestyle events and finished in 15th, 9th and 11th place.

 Listen to the podcast here:

Bengaluru’s very own Olympians Hakimuddin HabibullaNisha Millet Chatterjee (Sydney 2000) and Daniela Schreiber spoke to swimmers, swim teachers, coaches and parents about their career and journey to success at an event by Swimming Matters – India. Below is the transcript of the The Good City podcast with Daniela, who is currently a student at WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management. 

Aditya Mendonca: Hi, welcome to The Good City podcast with me, Aditya Mendonca. I have got a very special guest today who is travelling in India and she happens to be in Bangalore. She has got a fantastic track record, a German Olympic Swimmer, competed at 2012 London Olympics. This is Daniela.

Daniela Schreiber: Hi, I’m Daniela Schreiber, I’m an Olympian from Germany in Swimming and a Three-time medalist in the World Championships. Catch me on The Good City podcast.

AM: Hi Daniela

DS: Thank you for inviting me, it’s very nice being here in Bangalore. It’s very exciting for me being in India, I’ve never been here before and actually, I love it.

AM: So Daniela, how has the whole sporting experience been for you?

DS:  I grew up with sports very early, and my parents also loved sports, but not in a competitive way. But still, as a child I was also playing outside and enjoying sports. And I started swimming at the age of five. I learnt swimming as a regular child in Germany as well and then went to a local swimming club. Trained there 3 to 5 times a week as a little child, up to the fifth grade. And I was actually scouted by somebody from the near by sports school, and they asked me if I wanted to join a sports school and compete a bit more professionally.

AM: So from getting recruited by a scout, and obviously growing from different coaches, getting a physiotherapist, I mean the whole works, how did you manage to motivate yourself to go on and enter competitive swimming?

DS: So of course, in the beginning it also helps if you earn medals and you can compete, and you know in the beginning that you have a huge progress. Later on, it gets less and less of course. But in the early stage I had a good friend, she was always first and I was always second. And I hated it.

This inspired me to keep going and working on my weaknesses and to look at what others did. I also observed, of course, the inspiring swimmers, till that time it wasFranziska. When I was new she was a huge swimmer from Germany. And I observed her, her skills and what she does. So I tried to adapt this and yeah, finally, later on I also got the Gold medal twice at the European World Championships 2006 in Rio De Janeiro and it was for me the first point where I was like wow okay… it’s real, I can be on a senior level – I can also be an Olympian.

AM: Going back to what you said, that passion and putting that out, you know that you can do it and I am sure anybody who train on similar platform can get out and do it. So in sports, whether it is competitive swimming or any other competitive sports, one of the things that does affects athletes is depression. Have you ever felt anything close to it?

DS: Yeah of course, it’s always ups and downs. Sports is so emotional. It is one reason I like it, to have so many emotions. Because otherwise also you have a lot of tough times during training, hard sessions, also injuries, we are moving our shoulders a million times a year. And of course there are times when you have some pain in shoulders or you would have to overcome some tough times where the progress is not as much as you would like to have. And one specific time was when I didn’t get the qualification time of trials in Beijing Olympics in 2008. And I was really upset because the whole year I was training so hard. Actually it’s four years that you’re training for it. After this I had a really tough time to keep myself motivated but I still had in mind what I want – to reach Olympic games, but still my huge goal which I wanted to reach and it helped me a lot that my parents covered my back and also motivated me and helped me going through the tough times.

AM: Wow! Yeah, I guess, having your family around plays a vital role in doing anything you want to do in life apart from just swimming. So one of the thing we watched you talk about at you conversation to a lot of us, organised by another Olympian Hakim was that people can go out at any time of day and work out. Coming to the next point would be how all of us has a lot of excuses to not go out and work out. What’s your take on it?

DS: So at the moment I have also focused my priorities on the education part, I’m doing my MBA at a very good business school in Germany. And for me, especially in the beginning where I had classes from 9-5 and we had group work till night, I always thought okay… where can I fit my sports into this? And actually it was only possible in the morning, waking up early, which I was used to growing up as a swimmer. While other people were sleeping, I was going to the gym or the swimming pool, actually it helped me to get over the stress during studies.

It wasn’t the competitive training environment anymore. It was for myself that I stay healthy, that I stay in shape and especially for my mind. While swimming I think or I go through my studies or yeah actually problems whatever I can handle are due to swimming or training. It’s a good…like a stress killer.

AM: You recently retired from professional swimming and now you’re pursuing your MBA like you said. How has the transition been from training all day to actually now spending time studying and travelling?

DS: So it helped me a lot really jumping full time into the education apart studying till night or doing group work. Because if you don’t have the transition and you don’t fill the time which you had previously with swimming, with something else which is satisfying or brings you satisfaction then its very hard. I’ve seen a lot of swimmers or athletes who went into depression because they didn’t find anything, and they burn out because they couldn’t find something that they were passionate about or gave them that kind of sense.

AM: So, since this is your first trip in India, you have met swimmers, young parents, kids. So you are coming back in a bigger role hopefully?

DS: So I spoke to Hakim and I spoke to a lot of swimmers too and I was really impressed by their attitude. I mean we are having a kind of organising environment in swimming and the federation and the kind of way that they are dealing with is difficult, here in India… and not knowing where the next swimming session will be, if they have a swimming pool or not… I found it very impressive and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to speak to them. And I definitely I need to come back and I want to see how the development is going on in the Indian swimming and how is the work going on.

AM: Awesome, thank you for being with us on The Good City podcast, today. And we look forward to catching you soon.