A decade of layering on training has leveled alumni Patrick Cometta from amateur to professional, but this time in a completely new sport.
Starting out with a dream to compete in alpine skiing, his motto – “Always up for a challenge” – has taken him in a new direction: triathlon.
Ten years ago, Cometta graduated from Seven Summits Centre for Learning as the first cohort of graduates in this new high school educational model. He fondly remembers his time in Rossland, especially the downhill skiing.
“The skiing in Rossland is something I think of often, and having a high school education that supported me to learn while competing kept me in the sport. After graduation, I returned to Switzerland. I raced FIS for another four years with the Swiss University Ski team.”
Cometta recalls the move to a new learning centre and the enjoyment of all the adventurous options.
“The learning style was different and prepared me for future self-directed learning. However, once I entered Health Science and Technology in Zurich, I found it hard to compete in races and stay up with my studies. I quit skiing to focus on my studies.”
It wasn’t long before Cometta caught the competition bug again.
“I started competing in triathlon, moving from Olympic to Ironman distances within a year. The Ironman distance is 3.8-km of swimming, 180-km of cycling and 42-km of running. I enjoyed the variety of sports all in one event. As an ex-downhill skiing athlete, I often used biking to stay in shape during the off-season. Biking continues to be my strength.”
Building from his strength, Cometta trained in swimming and running to become a competitor again.
“I find the greatest challenge is not to go out too hard at the start but manage your energy throughout the whole day. In 2019 during my first half Ironman in Rapperswil (Switzerland), I went out too hard and bonked on the final run. Watching the people I had just passed now pass me was so hard. I finished sixth and made it my mission not to allow that to happen again. Pacing became critical.”
Triathlon training fit better with Cometta’s educational schedule. “I trained early in the morning, went to school during the day and trained again in the evenings. I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Health, Science, and Technology.”
As well, Swiss Nationals are expected to do mandatory military service. Cometta worked as a hospital soldier during the pandemic.
“It was a very busy time for health care professionals and caused a hiatus for training. When I completed the military rotation, I set my sights and signed up for an Ironman in Lanzarote for 2021.”
This race was a stepping stone towards Cometta’s ultimate goal to compete in the Ironman World Championships Hawaii.
“Due to the race being postponed until fall, I competed in the Ironman 70.3 in Marbella, which had no professional field, and I finished first. The experience was amazing to have a police escort to the finish and run through the banner at the end. This motivated me to focus on the Ironman in Hawaii.”
In October 2022, Cometta checked Kona off his racing bucket list.
“I competed as an amateur, finishing 20th in the swim, eighth on the bike, and 14th overall. In the second half of the marathon, I struggled with the heat and once again watched other athletes pass me to the finish line. My efforts were enough to qualify for the Pro status in Switzerland. This is a dream, as I plan to compete in 2023, lapping the same races to surpass my previous results.”
After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree, Cometta has sights on a Master’s in Management, Technology, and Economics.
“My focus has shifted from research to a broader view with this next degree. Orthopedic or project manager, I feel that my interest in the health industry is not in research but instead as an interface between people and patients holistically.” Cometta’s thesis focuses on using the Health Chatbot and validating the framework and application for today’s patient.
Cometta’s advice to 7S students is simple: “Enjoy your time. Explore all different topics and sports. At the end of high school, you are still on a journey of discovery with no idea where life will take you. Keep options open.
“Most of all, do more and put your electronics away so that you get out into the world and get first-hand experiences, as those are most memorable. Now go find your finish line banner to run through – there is no greater feeling!”
Check out Patrick’s website and workouts at Schweizer Triathlet | Patrick Cometta, and follow on Instagram @patrick_cometta.
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