(KMSP) - A swimmer from Excelsior, Minnesota, is really going the distance.
For four hours a day, seven days a week, Sandra Berquist is in the water--but now, all that training appears to have paid off.
Over the weekend, Berquist came in first place in the Global Swim Series Global Championships in Cancun, Mexico.
"I like the community, and it brings joy to everyone. It brings joy to me," Berquist said. “I’m pretty mind-boggled. My goal was to place in the top 10, and I didn't know I was winning when I finished until they told me."
With a time of 1:54:7, she beat out about 350 other female swimmers from around the world to take the top prize in the 10K open water race in the Caribbean. Held at the El Cruce race, it's the world's largest 10K swim.
"During the swim we saw turtles, dory fish and got to experience the moment, be outside in nature," Berquist said.
After swimming competitively at Eden Prairie High School and St. Cloud State, Berquist fell in love with open water swimming 12 years ago when one of her coaches invited her to a 5-mile open swim on Lake Minnetonka.
Since then, she's traveled the country competing in long-distance swim races, winning about 20 or so in the last two years.
"I get the opportunity to feel at peace with myself, at peace with the world," she said. "I feel like I'm where I'm supposed to be when I am open water swimming."
Berquist swam longer distances under more difficult circumstances, but she said winning this race means the most.
"This was an actual dream that's come true. This was the goal. I set out to compete in this type of event and not only did I compete, I won."