Costella ninth at nationals

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Lauren Costella of Carson City swam to her second top-10 finish at the Phillips 66 Summer National Championships when she placed ninth in the 800-meter freestyle on Friday.

Costella, 16, of the Carson Tigersharks, was clocked at 8 minutes, 43.73 seconds and finished just three seconds out of fourth-place.

Carson Tigershark coach Jim Puleo said that Costella did what she had to do, swimming her first 400 in 4:20.08. Her first 400 split was faster than her time in the 400 freestyle earlier in the week at nationals in which she finished in 4:20.33.

"She swam a good race," Puleo said. "She swam a controlled race. I just know she's capable of doing better."

Diana Munz of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, won the event in 8:29.02 for the 20th national title of her career.

Costella also placed eighth in the 400 individual medley on Monday. She is entered in the 1,500 freestyle today and will join Tigershark teammate Tara Theilemann to swim in the 5,000-meter open water national championships on Sunday. Costella is the defending champion in the 1,500 free at summer nationals.

In addition, Theilemann swam in a 400 free time trial on Friday, breaking 4:30 for the first time as she finished in 4:28.71. Puleo said he thought Theilemann could have gone even faster as she's still recovering from a bout with tonsillitis and faded a little at the end.

Two other Carson City swimmers, Julie Hardt and Dana Baum, helped Reno Aquatics finish 17th in the women's 400 medley relay with a time of 4:21.37. The team included Marshi Smith (1:07.58), Kathryn Houston (1:13.94), Hardt (1:02.49) and Baum (57.36).

Also on Friday, Natalie Coughlin broke the oldest American swimming record, winning the 200 backstroke in 2:08.53. Coughlin narrowly beat Betsy Mitchell's 1986 time of 2:08.60 for the record and her fifth win of the meet.

Coughlin is the first person since 1978 to win five events at one national championships, a feat last accomplished by Tracy Caulkins. Coughlin, of Concord, Calif., also won the 100 backstroke, butterfly and freestyle, plus the 200 freestyle. She broke the world record in the 100 back.

"My plan was to just take it out and see where it got me," Coughlin said of her 200 backstroke performance. "It was my best time by three-and-a-half seconds, so I was pleased, especially after this long week."

Not to be outdone, Michael Phelps struck again, holding off Ian Crocker in the 100-meter butterfly to break Crocker's American record with a time of 51.88, just .07 off of the world mark.

Phelps, of Baltimore, won four events at the meet, breaking one world (400 individual medley) and two American records (100 butterfly, 200 individual medley).

"I didn't expect that at all," Phelps said. "I knew Crocker would be very, very hard to beat and I knew he would go out fast. My goal was pretty much to get out with him and give it everything I could."

Erik Vendt of North Easton, Mass., won the 1,500 freestyle in 15:03.49.


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