Emily Brunemann Klueh


  • Birthday: September 19, 1986
  • Hometown: Crescent Springs, KY
  • Now Resides: Ypsilanti, MI
  • College: Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Master’s Degree in Clinical Social Work with and emphasis on social work and sports from the University of Michigan
  • Coach: Jon Urbancheck, Rick Bishop, Josh White, Alex Braunfeld


  • Becoming the first American Male or Female to win the FINA 10k Open Water World Cup Circuit.  This was incredibly meaningful as one of her mentors, Fran Crippen, passed away in the pursuit of this accomplishment.
  • Winning NCAAs in the mile in 2008. After two hard years of working with a therapist to build confidence and a strong mindset, Emily was able to go from finishing last in NCAAs as a freshman to have an undefeated season in the 1,000 and 1650 races two years later.
  • Won the 10k at Open Water Nationals in 2009
  • Member of the U.S. National Team for 10 years

Now that Emily is no longer competing in the spotlight, she has dedicated herself to shining the spotlight on others:

“I was fortunate to have a swimming career that lasted 24 years while reaching true heights in the sport.  Not only have I been successful in the sport, but I also have a passion for passing along lessons and experiences to the next generation!”

Emily absolutely loves working with developing swimmers and helping them find their passion for the sport. The “special sauce” to swimming success lies in a concept that all swimmers can understand:

“Have fun! If you do not have fun with what you are doing, it’s hard to stick with it and be successful. Fun and enjoyment is crucial!”

When swimmers are having fun in the water, incredible opportunities for growth and experiences emerge. Emily’s elite experience coupled with her deep sport psychology background gives her a unique voice to speak about what it takes to be great not only with water skills but also mental skills.

“Often the mental side gets overlooked. I understand the concept of grit, growth mindset, and building resiliency  that can have a significant impact on the success of athletes.”

Emily created a mental health and sport performance education program for Club Wolverine, one of the top swim clubs in the U.S., to teach the intermediate, senior, and national groups about mental health as well as implementing skills to help them in the swimming career. In case you haven’t noticed a pattern, Emily does not believe in limits and takes initiative in all that she does to equip athletes for success! Well-versed in race strategy, Emily will encourage athletes to branch out and try new tactics.

For those interested in open water I would say keep an open mind.  So much can happen in a race which makes it exciting.  Every race is so different even if in the same location.  It isn’t about pacing up and down a black line but about excitement, strategy, change, and pure toughness.  Open water is hard but it can open doors of traveling the world and being a part of a family.

Another theme from Emily’s career that she desires to impart on those crossing her path is to embrace failure. Often a source of fear for athletes, failure is actually an integral part of the athletic experience.

Failure is a part of every career, whether in swimming or other areas of life. Learning to pick yourself up and continue moving forward instead of fearing the ups and downs has been incredibly helpful in both my swimming and post-swimming life pursuits.

Emily has helped swimmers grasp the fact that failure is a part of life, freeing them to learn and grow from these experiences rather than become defeated by them. “In order to achieve the goals in front of you, you have to work hard. Sometimes you will have seasons where you don’t achieve your goals, but that doesn’t mean giving up.  It just means learning, reevaluating and working harder!”

From her humble beginnings as a self-proclaimed water-bug wearing swimmies to becoming a national champion as an adult, Emily has what it takes to leave a lasting impression on a swimmer’s experience. She cannot wait to meet your swimmers at a Fitter and Faster Clinic! Her parting words are full of gratitude and shape her coaching philosophy: 

Swimming has taught me so much – the power of resiliency, the impact of hard work, the meaning of friendship, passion to pursue dreams, and the importance of giving back.  I am forever grateful to those who have come into my life and helped challenge and shape me to be better.

Emily hopes to impact others in the same way coaches and teammates have shaped her life.