Sophomores Kucheran, Fernandes lead FSU into ACCs

The future looks bright. But the freshmen and sophomores are already performing like veterans, too.

Some of the top swimmers on the Florida State women’s team are freshmen and sophomores. A few of them, like Nina Kucheran, have already made a mark – quite literally – by setting a school record.

“It’s really exciting that we have such a young team that’s so talented,” said Kucheran said. “We have a few years to work together and build as a team. It’s really exciting to see so many young people do so well. We’re definitely a big family. It’s just fun to work together and see that we have a few more years to get even better than where we are now.”

Kucheran and Aryanna Fernandes lead a group of women’s swimmers and divers as the ACC championships take place at Georgia Tech on Wednesday through Saturday. The men’s swimmers and divers will compete in Atlanta next week.

As a freshman last year, Kucheran broke FSU’s 200 breaststroke record with a time of 2:08.78 and was the ACC’s silver medalist. The record was never a goal but as soon as she touched the wall her teammates and coaches congratulated her on the accomplishment.

“I had no expectations,” Kucheran said. “Just touching the wall and seeing the time and all of my teammates cheering for me was a special moment.”

Kucheran has led the team this season, winning the 100 breast every time she swam it, collecting a total of 15 victories over the 100 breast, 200 breast and 200 IM this season. She has competed for Team Canada at various international competitions and could represent her country in the 2020 Summer Olympics. 

Another FSU swimmer from Canada has turned heads, too. Fernandes, a transfer from Utah, is expected to help the relay teams this week and has been one of the top swimmers in the 100 butterfly. Whereas she previously faded in the back half of races, Fernandes said improving her endurance has been a focus so that she can be more consistent.

“The work ethic on this team is really underrated,” Fernandes said. “Everyone no matter how tough of a practice we have the day before or we know we have a tough practice coming up, everyone brings the best of themselves and they bring out the best in other people. 

“I’m really excited to see what we can do at a championship meet this week.”

Senior divers Molly Carlson and Ayla Bonniwell have been the foundation of FSU diving. In 2019-20, the pair brought home 12 event wins in duals in 18 tries, including seven 1-2 finishes. They will also compete this week in Atlanta.

Aryanna Fernandes will participate in the 100 and 200 butterfly at the ACC meet. (photo by Ross Obley)

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