Like any swimmer, Emily Brunemann hopes to swim in the 2016 Summer Olympics. She has a chance, but she’ll need help from others first.
Until then, the 2005 Notre Dame Academy graduate gets to focus on other big international meets and a shot at history, beginning July 11. That’s when Brunemann will compete in Toronto in the Pan-American Games, racing the 10,000 meter open water race.
She will be joined in Toronto by husband, Michael Klueh, who is the American recordholder in the 4×200 freestyle relay and will compete in the pool at the Pan-Am Games. They are believed to be the first American married couple to compete together in an international meet.
“My goal is to be on the podium,” she said. “There’s nothing better than bringing home medals for your country.”
Brunemann placed fourth at the USA Open Water National Championships at the 10K distance in April. She will fly from Toronto to the World Championships in Russia to compete in the 25K Open Water event in August.
She and her husband, who live and train in Ann Arbor, Mich., both will represent the United States in Toronto and Russia this summer. Besides swimming, she has just completed her first year of graduate school at the University of Michigan.
A 10K race is 6.2 miles, and 25K is 15. Brunemann swims about 65,000 meters a week to train and will only taper for a few days before the Pan-Am Games.
“A 10K normally takes about two hours,” she said. “The 25K takes about five and a half hours and will be in a river in Russia. Each 10K is about equivalent to a marathon with the energy expenditure and everything.”
Brunemann is a 2010 graduate of the University of Michigan where she was the 2008 NCAA champion in the 1650 freestyle event, a five-time NCAA All-American and five-time NCAA Honorable Mention All-American Consideration and Academic All American. In 2013, she became the first American to win the FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup Series competing in Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Canada, China and Hong Kong. She also raced in a 19K off the coast of Poland in the Baltic Sea and competed in the World University Games in Russia.
At NDA, she won 15 regional titles, three state championships, and three state runner-up finishes in KHSAA competition. She won the 500 freestyle as a senior, and in college, the 1,650 is the longest event. That distance is not contested in the Olympics, so with an eye on that dream she started training in open water events late in her Michigan career and immediately loved it.
“I’ve got the opportunity to travel around the world,” she said. “I met my husband through swimming and some of my best friends. Doing what I do has allowed me to become the person who I am. I’ve learned how to deal with my successes and failures and keep pushing forward. There’s nothing better than competing for the United State and hearing your anthem play for crowds of people.”
Qualifying for the 2016 Olympics will be tricky. The 10K is the only open water distance contested there. Because Brunemann didn’t qualify for this year’s World Championships in that event, she can only get in the Olympics if the two American qualifiers fail to finish in the top 10 in Russia. If that happens, an extra Olympic qualifying race will take place in 2016.
Klueh, part of the national recordholders in the 4×200 relay, narrowly missed qualifying for the 2012 Olympics in the open 200 and 400 and hopes to win sports next year. A University of Texas standout, he will be competing in the Olympic Trials meet in Omaha. The couple got married last fall and hasn’t had an official honeymoon trip yet.
“I was so excited when I found out we would be on the same team for Pan American Games,” she said. “After open water nationals I knew it would be likely I would be picked up for Worlds as well. Then the following week it was released that Michael made the team too. We have such polar opposite traveling schedules and many times I would come home to him leaving and vice versa. We didn’t see each other for a month and a half after getting engaged.”
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