Five Questions: Emily Brunemann
Emily Brunemann

April 23, 2012

Open water swimming became an official event at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and since her collegiate career ended two years ago, former U-M swimming standout Emily Brunemann (2006-10) has made a goal of representing the United States at this summer's 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

The 2008 NCAA champion in the 1,650-yard freestyle, Brunemann currently trains with Fullerton Aquatics Sports Team (FAST) under the tutelage of former Michigan men's swimming head coach Jon Urbanchek with the hopes of making the U.S. Olympic Team as an open water swimmer. She'll head to Fort Myers, Fla., this Friday (April 27) to swim the 10k at the 2012 Open Water National Championships.

Question 1

Can you explain what open water swimming entails and some of the biggest differences between open water and traditional pool swimming?

Open Water swimming was put into the Olympics in 2008, and it's a 10k event. The race can be in an ocean, in a lake or a river, basically any open body of water. In London, it'll be in a lake in Hyde Park. I think of open water swimming almost like the swimming portion of a triathlon. It's a big group of people that swim together for a long period of time. The biggest difference between the two is the amount of yardage. I tend to swim a lot by myself since most of the people I train with are focused on pool swimming. But other than that, the technical aspects are pretty similar. It's hard to train for certain things in open water unless you are in that actual open-water environment. Going to different races helps, but practice wise, it's not much different. You still need speed in open water swimming, and you still need to hold on for a long period of time.

Question 2

How are you with your training right now? Training with FAST, does it help you knowing that many of the people you're training with all have the same aspirations?

I am really happy with where I'm at. I've increased my yardage a lot over the last two months. My trials are coming up next week, so I'm starting to come down and tapering as I get closer. It helps working alongside other with similar goals. It's not as big of a team, but it's like college in the sense that everyone is working toward the same thing. We're all working to make the Olympic team. I'm excited about what next week can bring.

Question 3

You're currently right in the middle of the open water season. Take us through a typical day.

We train 10 times per week and go between two and two-and-a-half hours per session. On a Monday, I'll wake up at 6:10 a.m., go to practice from around 7-9 then go meet with the strength coach for about two hours. I head home, eat lunch then go back to the pool for another session from 2-4 p.m. We're in the pool more than 20 hours per week with an additional 4-5 hours of strength and conditioning work per week. I also probably run 10 miles per week and do Pilates. So, it's definitely a full-time job, but I love it.

Question 4

What are some of the major events you have on your upcoming schedule?

The National Championships in Fort Myers is the big one. That's in a lake. If I finish in the top two there, I'll go to Portugal for another race on June 9. In Portugal, you have to finish among the top nine and be the fastest American to make the Olympic team. This year, the U.S. will send one swimmer to the Olympics to swim in the 10k. There are only 26 spots, globally, for the actual race. I'll figure out the rest of my summer after that. If I make the Olympic team, I'll go to the Olympic Trials (June 25-July 2 in Omaha, Neb.) and swim the 800-meter freestyle. If I don't make the team, I'll swim the 400 IM, the 400 free and the 800 free.

Question 5

What's your favorite moment from all the years you've watched the Summer Olympics?

I have two. Growing up, Janet Evans was someone I really looked up to. She was a distance swimmer. I was really little when she was at her peak in the late 1980s. In 2008, to see Jason Lezak win the U.S. 400-meter freestyle relay on the final leg was incredible. Most people would agree that was an amazing race and an amazing finish.