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High school junior Michaela Chokureva has verbally committed to the University of North Carolina, where she plans to arrive in the fall of 2023.
Chokureva lives in Andover, Massachusetts and trains with the Phoenix Swimming Club.
Chokureva swam at the Speedo Summer Championships – East meet in August, where she placed 42nd in the 50 free (27.76), 40th in the 100 free (59.34), and 42nd in the 100 fly (1:05.08) in long course.
While none of those were best times (26.34/57.62/1:04.58), those are her specialty events. She springboarded over her experience at big summer meets into the USA Swiming Winter Junior Championships – East meet in December, where she swam a personal best of 22.93 in the 50 yard free – her first time under 23 seconds – on a relay leadoff.
That time is a New England Swimming LSC Record, breaking the previous record of 22.99 that was set by Rachel Moore in 2011.
She wound up earning second swims in both the 50 and 100 freestyles at that meet, finishing 21st and 22nd in the individual events, respectively.
Representing Andover High School, as a freshman, she was the Massachusetts High School State Champion in both the 50 and 100 yard freestyles in the state’s fall championship meet. She did not race the high school season in the fall or winter seasons because of the pandemic.
Best Times in Yards:
- 50 free – 22.93
- 100 free – 50.09
- 200 free – 1:50.82
- 100 back – 57.97
- 200 back – 2:05.24
- 100 fly – 55.52
She joins a North Carolina squad that finished 8th at last year’s ACC Championship meet. That was their lowest finish in program history, driven by a small roster of only 14 athletes at the meet because of COVID-19 protocols.
Even with those problems, Grace Countie still carried the Tar Heels to a respectable sprint performance, finishing 3rd in the 100 free and tied for 4th in the 50 free, and the team’s sprint relays finished mid-pack.
Countie, even if she uses her COVID-waiver 5th year of eligibility, will be graduated by the time Chokureva arrives in Chapel Hill, as will the team’s #2 sprinter Heidi Lowe.
That will mean it’s rebuilding time for the Tar Heels. Current freshman Greer Pattison will carry the torch initially (she’s been 22.82 in the 50 free already this season), but Chokureva should accelerate that process with her arrival on campus and immediately contend for the #1 spot in that sprint group.
While UNC head coach Mark Gangloff has some good swimmers signed or verbally committed in the next two classes, none of them are primarily sprinters – which was arguably the team’s biggest need.
Chokureva joins a class of 2023 that also includes in-state commit Taylor Bloom (55.3/2:01.1 butterflier) and Ava Muzzy from neighboring Virginia (54.7 butterflier, 1:59.8/4:18.3 IMer).
Chokureva participated in the 2021 USA Swimming Diversity Select Camp. The camp includes swimmers aged 14-16 who are chosen based on times swum at USA Swimming sanctioned meets and include an expenses-paid trip to an Olympic Training Center for a three-day camp. 56 swimmers are chosen every year. Among the program alumni are Tokyo 2020 Olympians Simone Manuel, Jay Litherland, Torri Huske and Natalie Hinds.
“My biggest takeaway is that you can always get better,” Chokureva said of that experience. “There are always people you can look to [to help] get better – whether that be someone who is a different race than you or somebody who is older than you or somebody who has been in the position that you are in. There is always someone who can help you through whatever you are going through.”
Chokureva is a two-time USA Swimming Scholastic All-American and was part of a Phoenix Swimming relay that set a 13-14 National Age Group Record in the 200 meter free relay in 2019.
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