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Erika Villaécija: “Everyone talks about retirement and when it happens it’s like going through mourning”

If you were to take an X-ray of your life, what would you say your triumph has been, both in sports and personally?

I have always thought it was the gold medal at the Dubai World Championships in 2010. But nowadays having been able to make a normal transition of retirement and farewell, with all that implies and more over having created a life after swimming. I think this has been my greatest triumph.

You are a woman, you are an athlete, and you are also an entrepreneur, what made you become an entrepreneur?

Although the sport and swimming are considered as a team, it is actually individual. The fact of making an effort from a young age to get ahead, makes you follow this dynamic. 

Why did you decide to participate in the SC Trade Center Talks?

Because I think it is interesting to explain a little bit about people’s perspectives and lives, how did we get here. And that women feel identified and can take a little bit of your experience.

Erika Villaécija: “Everyone talks about retirement and when it happens it’s like going through mourning”,

What do you think about this kind of initiatives that give a voice to women? Do you think they are important?

Yes, they are very important. People are conscious of equality, but we still have a lot of work to do, I think it is undoubted important to give voice; but above all to show that there are people who are successful and get ahead.

If you had to find a common thread between being a woman, being a businesswoman and being an athlete, what would you say is the common thread?

Constancy and character are the common thread most women have, which is largely long-suffering, more instinctive, more conscious. Let us put it this way, they are tireless fighter. I consider this is the common thread among the three.

Why do you think it is important to give businesswomen a voice?

Even though we are in the fight to give them a voice, we are always a little behind. I have seen it especially at the sporting level, although I personally have not had any problems, but when I have gone through the role of coach in a club, I have seen that you are always a little bit below someone, who in this case was male. In the end I feel it is important to give a voice and to do things, because by doing things we prove that we are valid and that we can achieve even more

Can you explain to us your message in this forum?

What happens to elite women athletes when they retire to grow in a different activity, they realize that those challenges, those motivations they left behind, are part of their passion, of their life and they find them in another field such as the business world, or in psychology in my personal case.

You have lived in Sant Cugat for many years in the CAR. What memories do you have of the city?

I entered the CAR in Sant Cugat when I was 14 years old, then I bought an apartment and I lived here in the city until 2 years ago when I moved to Barcelona for work and so on. I am very happy because here you always have that village atmosphere that never goes away, so going out on Sunday afternoons, walking around the monastery and all that is an atmosphere that I miss now that I am in Barcelona.

Recently, you have made public that you are part of the Érika Villaécija Team, what does this new project consist of?

The idea is to create online swimming programs for triathletes, pool swimmers and open water swimmers. There are two different ones, one a little more basic for people who are just starting and would be to improve the technique and a little to know what swimming itself is. And the other one for people who have been doing it for a while, with their goals, their training rhythms, and a little more personalized follow-up. It was a way to get back in the water but keeping a little bit of the life that I lead now approaching swimming.

Do you miss the water?

Yes, a little bit, I swim from time to time and I compete in masters level and so on, but the part of training, taking people and guiding is what I miss the most and that’s why I decided to create this.

Has it been difficult to get to where you are today?

Actually yes, because everyone talks about the transition, the sporting retirement and until you have not experienced it, you do not know. It is like going through a mourning. Finding day-to-day objectives and motivations is complicated, because in the end your passion and your life is swimming and you have to find something similar.

Erika Villaécija:
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