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B.A. Digital Business

Celine Rieder

"My online studies are easy to combine with swimming practices because it is completely free of time and location restraints. This great flexibility lets me study easily between workouts."

Professional swimming athlete Celine Rieder’s dream has finally come true this year: after years of hard work, she was included in the German Olympic team for the first time, and competed against other international athletes in the Tokyo Olympics. But the 20-year-old is not just an Olympian – she’s also an IU student, working on completing her Bachelor’s degree in Digital Business.

When and how did you start swimming professionally?

Celine Rieder: When I was a child, I would often go to the swimming pool with my parents. One day, the lifeguard at the pool asked me if I would be interested in joining their swim club, and after trying it out, I instantly fell in love with swimming – a love that I still have to this day!

At age 7, I started swimming in a more professional way, and started to participate in competitions.

Did you have a role model that inspired you early on in your career?

Celine: Not one specific role model, but yes. My role models were mainly swimmers who participated in the German national championships – that was my first big professional goal. Later on, I was also inspired by international athletes.

There wasn’t one specific person that I looked up to, but I have repeatedly set golas for myself through the performance of other people. That was my motivation.

What made you choose to study Digital Business at IU International University of Applied Sciences?

Celine: When I first found out about the option of studying online, I of course looked at different online studies universities and colleges, and was won over by IU’s flexible offer.

I decided to study Digital Business because I always wanted to go in the direction of economics, and thought that combining something from that field with IT would be great. I especially liked the fact that in the fourth semester, you have the option to choose between data science and digital marketing, so you can dive into the area that you personally like more.

How do you combine your studies with your everyday sports activities?

Celine: My online studies are easy to combine with swimming practices because it is completely free of time and location restraints. This great flexibility lets me study easily between workouts. The same goes for the exams: I can take them online 24/7.

Are you in regular contact with other students?

Celine: Yes. Even though I study online, I am in constant contact with my fellow students. Social media groups are great for exchanging ideas, for example.

Were your studies a part of your Olympic tournament?

Celine: Yes, I took some of my digital study materials with me! But I have to be honest: in the preparation phase, my studies took a back seat to my training – I had to prioritise my performance at the Olympics. From now I will dedicate more time to studying again.

Would you say that preparing for exams and preparing for a competition are comparable?

Celine: To me they are two completely different situations. In a competition, the starting conditions are always similar. Yes, the pool is different, you have different opponents or a different level of competition (national vs. international competitions) – but the swimming is the same, and I’ve done it so many times before.

With exams it’s exactly the other way around: you don’t really know what to expect. You know the subject, but not the questions, so there are always some surprises.

What were your most difficult and most rewarding moments in sports and in your studies?

Celine: I’ve had a lot of challenges to overcome in swimming. For example, in 2019, I was about to graduate from high school, so I was more focused on school than on training. But I was still dedicated to qualifying for the World Cup, which unfortunately didn’t happen. That was really difficult for me. Luckily, this year my studies and training worked really well together.

My best sporting moment? There were a lot, but the best one is qualifying for the Olympics in April!

As for my studies, the most rewarding moments are when you get a good grade for a task or an exam, after working very hard to combine studies and training. That makes all the stress before exams worth it.

What are your top three tips for dealing with challenges?


1. Set clear goals so you know what you’re working towards.

2. Make a plan and structure your work (I'm a bit of a planning freak…).

3. Believe in yourself and trust in your strengths.

What’s next for you?

Celine: All I can say for sure is that I will do my best in sports and also earn my degree. Everything else will come on its own.