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Newly Engaged and Professionally Soaring

Article written by Kristen Louis 12/9/13

Emily Brunemann has much to celebrate this year. Brunemann, a world class open water swimmer, just won the FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup series. It was a hard journey for Brunemann and, even in speaking with her now, she sounds shocked and proud of her accomplishments. Brunemann did not set out to be an open water swimmer. In college at the University of Michigan she swam throughout college. She red-shirted her senior year though previously when she competed in meets her best event was the mile. She found that she liked swimming longer distances and that the longer the distance, the better she placed. Brunemann’s coaches and trainers realized her potential with long distance swimming and encouraged her to try open water swimming. She was reluctant at first having spent most of her career swimming in pools, but decided to give it a try. For fun, in Fort Meyers, FL, Brunemann competed in her first open water 5K; her initial feeling about the whole experience was mixed. Brunemann explained that the water was hot, rough and salty. All of the above were very different sensations that do not come with swimming in a pool but these sensations were not altogether unpleasant. Despite the change from pool swimming, and it being her first attempt at open water swimming, Brunemann placed 4th in her first 5K then went on to win the 10K in nationals in 2009. It was then that Brunemann realized she was good at open water swimming…really good.

In 2013, Brunemann was ready to complete the entire series in the FINA 10K open water series. She had competed in the series since 2010 but never in its entirety.  She had trained vigorously and was ready to win. Unfortunately, Brunemann got very ill and was hospitalized four days before the final meet. In the last leg of the series, still recovering from being hospitalized, Brunemann physically had little left to give. Her body was tired and though she had a solid cushion of points, her still weak body did not allow her to swim as hard as usual; she came in tenth place in the meet. She, understandably, was sad and disappointed though she accepted her fate and vowed to do better next time. Later, after completing the race, Brunemann was looking at the rules of FINA and found that the organization had written in their meet packet that they would follow the organization’s official rules and regulations. In finding this information, Brunemann was astute and realized that the final scores in the series were calculated improperly; FINA had not used the official rules in calculating the scores. FINA had calculated the score of the final race using double points and the official rules said nothing about double calculations. She spoke with FINA who agreed with her assertion and it was found that Brunemann had in fact won the FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup series. Ecstatic at finding that she had won this grueling competition, she also realized if she had not won, she still had ample reason to celebrate.

Recently engaged to fellow swimmer Michael Klueh, Brunemann was giddy as she told me about the night he proposed marriage. They were both going to be traveling for about a month and a half, and despite this impending distance, she had a feeling he might propose. When she mentioned as such to Klueh over dinner that evening, he told her that getting engaged would not be happening yet since they would be so far apart for so long. She was disappointed though she agreed and let the subject drop. After dinner, they went back to the condo they share and Brunemann found long-stemmed red roses and a bottle of champagne on the table that were not there when they left for dinner. She also saw that rose petals covered the floor. She admired the table and when she turned around to ask Michael what was happening, she found him kneeling on the floor asking for her to be his wife. Emily excitedly accepted his proposal. Though they are often apart, Brunemann finds that training and having fun together in the pool allows them to stay bonded even when there is quite literally a country between them.

From beating the odds in the FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup series to her impending nuptials to her love, Emily Brunemann is having a great year.

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