Today was the first day of action for Team USA. I am proud to say that Emily Brunemann finished off a nail bitter of a race today in a very close 2nd place to Pauliana Okimoto from Brazil.  This 2nd place finish keeps Emily on top of the leader board with one race to go for the overall 2013 Fina 10k World Cup Champion.
     This trip has been very eye opening for me as I have gotten to experience even more in the sport of Open Water Swimming. The morning started off at 6:30 a.m. with a breakfast for all the athletes and coaches.  At 7:15 a.m. we loaded the “so called buses” and headed to the venue approximately 20 minutes from the hotel.  Upon arrival we journeyed down to the course to see how things were set up.  I have to say that the Ohio River now looks like crystal clear water. The swimmers’ visibility was non-existent in the water. I was amazed watching the athletes just laugh it off and not let it bother them. Emily was just curious about the turn buoys and how the feed station was going to be set up.
     After this quick look at the course it was time to get started on preparation. Most of the athletes laugh and joke and enjoy each other's company. It is like a giant family amongst them all. As the clock grew closer you started to see each country begin preparing athletes.   By this I mean that petroleum jelly is pretty much smeared all over the athletes’ bodies to avoid suit rash and to keep athletes from gripping onto ankles and caps; the duct tape comes out as it is used to hold down goggles on the cap and we wrap the feed sticks in bright pink duct tape so Emily can spot her stick as I hang it over the edge of the dock.
     With only a few minutes remaining before the horn is sounded to start the race the intensity is at a peak as the meet officials tell us to hurry up. I have to say Emily never lets it get to her. She stayed calm the whole time. As the athletes head to the starting dock they are called one by one and introduced. They are each assigned a spot on the dock to start from. Emily gets to her position and on the start she lets everybody else dive in and then she finds her spot she wants to enter. (I guess a start really doesn't matter on a 10k).
     The race was a 5 lap race, Emily strategy was to stay at the back of the lead pack on laps one and two and then move forward on three and four with a leave it all in the water on lap 5. For the most part this was the case. Lap 2 was a little faster pace than expected but Emily remained patient never dropping out of the top 5 during the first 4 laps. My job was to make sure I had her bottle of Gatorade and Goo Mix and if she needed a bottle of electrolyte concentrated drink. Emily fed at the end of lap 1, 2, 3 and 4. Each time became more intense and going into her last lap she was very quick to get her 1/2 bottle of Gatorade down without skipping a beat. With a 1/2 lap to go they announced Emily in first but looking across the river I could see it was not going to be a runaway. Pauliana from Brazil was stroke for stroke with her. As they came down the finish chute they were side by side and Pauliana got her hand on the touch pad first.
     Emily fought an amazing race and I was very proud to see her climb out of the water. She was a little shaky at the end but let’s be real 10k under 2 hours...WOW.   Next up is Hong Kong.  We leave bright and early tomorrow. We will spend the next few days training and Emily will swim on Oct. 5th. GO EMILY!!! GO USA.