The pool pursuits of Nina Kucheran are not yet done.
There are still avenues that Kucheran can pursue, avenues she still feels compelled to pursue.
“They have a really wicked pro team here (University of Florida) with Olympians from the US and other countries,” said the 22-year-old Collège Notre-Dame graduate. “The pro swimmers train with the collegiate swimmers. Having a group of people here who are shooting for the same things as me is a really good environment to be in.
“I think I owe it to myself.”
There is little doubt that a big part of her current mindset is born from a stretch of very successful swimming. Kucheran enjoyed her best-ever performance at the NCAA championships and followed that up with personal best times at the Canadian Trials – all under less than ideal circumstances.
“By the time you get to trials, it’s tough when you are a collegiate swimmer,” Kucheran said. “You taper for conference, you taper for NCAAs. This is the third taper – at the most challenging part of the year.”
If doubt existed in the first half of the 2022-2023 university season, the spring session renewed the hope.
“I had to trust the process, which is definitely a lot harder than it sounds,” she said.
Point of clarification: it’s a lot harder than it sounds when your swim times are not showing the progress you are expecting to see.
“For the second semester (January to May – 2023), they really dial in, with everything coming together for championship season,” Kucheran said. “They put emphasis here on being fast when it matters.
“I have to give this new program a legit chance.”
Where she is now sold on the process, the road she ventured was not an easy one.
“The program here is very physically demanding, probably the most physically demanding program that I have ever been in,” said Kucheran. “It’s very physically and mentally demanding.”
She already enjoys a well-deserved reputation as an absolute workhorse when it comes to her swimming training regimen, pushed to the boundaries that very few can handle in a sport that requires a level of discomfort in workouts in order to obtain the race day results that fuel the fire of elite athletes.
“But this was just different in the sense that it was a lot more volume than I had ever done,” she said. “And despite being tired from the amount of work I was putting in, I was still expecting myself to go the same times. That was a mental adjustment. I had to trust I was putting the right amount of work in practice and that the coach had a plan and that it was going to work.”
Where training in Florida the past few years has been a simple byproduct of maintaining an NCAA scholarship, Kucheran no longer enjoys that option, looking to part-time work as a teaching assistant and striving to hit the FINA “A” times needed to ensure Sport Canada carding – and funding.
“I’m a second off in the 200 metres, about 0.7 seconds off in the 100m,” said Kucheran.
A handful of top-end meets this summer will gear the northern girl up for a shot at the 2023 Speedo Canadian Swimming Championships in August.
At least that’s the plan for now.
“You write your plan in pencil,” laughed Kucheran. “That’s kind of been my motto.”
Randy Pascal is a sportswriter in Greater Sudbury. Pursuit is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.