Back in the water

In 2013, open-water swimmer Emily Brunemann became the first American to win the overall title on the FINA 10K Marathon Swimming World Cup pro circuit. With her eyes -- and training plan -- already geared toward Rio in 2016, Brunemann started the season in Australia with races in Sydney and Perth. She shows us her best shots from the trip.

My first race of the trip, called The Great Sydney Swim, was at a beautiful venue right next to the Sydney Opera House. While the day of the race was a little overcast, it was a great opportunity to see the city and to swim next to a place so famous. All I kept thinking about while I was swimming was the movie “Finding Nemo” -- there were so many fish underneath me!

The 2.2K race was held on Australia Day, and I felt a little badly when I won, like, “Here comes the American, on Australia Day, winning the race!”

The day before the Sydney race I trained in this pool. It was salt water -- which I have never trained in before (other than competing in the ocean). And it was beautiful; it overlooked the bay and was right next to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney.

Here, I’m in Perth with the other two American girls (Haley Anderson and Ashley Twichell, with me on the right), training two days before the race. There is a large swimming festival called the BHP Billiton Aquatic Super Series that goes on during this time, and our open-water race was part of this festival.

This was the group of Americans again (this time with Alex Meyer, on the right, as well) getting ready to test out the racecourse the morning before the event. It took place in the Swan River and we were swimming through jellyfish the whole time! Thankfully, they didn’t sting.

Here it’s race day, and we're with the mascots. Though I was a little disappointed to end up in fifth, the race was a great experience and I will definitely be attending again next year. It was the first race of the season, so it was a great way to see where I’m at in my training. I took my first break in a long time last winter, and it has taken me a little longer than expected to get back to where I need to be.

So I was very happy with the results and know the things I need to work on from here. Obviously every competitive athlete wants to win all the time, but that is unrealistic. So I took this race as that opportunity to learn, and it definitely helped me with my preparations toward U.S. nationals in June.

I made some incredible friends while I was in Australia. This was the group I was training with for the majority of the time I was there. After the Perth race I had the honor to attend the Australian Swimmer of the Year Awards. The U.S. has a very similar awards show called Golden Goggles, held in November each year.