It had been a relatively disappointing week for Lauren Costella at the Phillips 66 Summer National Swimming Championships in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
But that all changed when Costella, 17, of the Carson Tigersharks, won her second straight title in the 1,500-meter freestyle in the summer nationals. Costella successfully defended her title from last year when she won in 16 minutes, 29.16 seconds.
Costella was coming off a ninth place finish in the 800 free and an eighth place finish in the 400 individual medley in the meet.
"It made me feel real good because I hadn't done too well in the 800 free," said Costella about the 1,500 free. "It was pretty uplifting. It was just motivational.
"I'm pretty happy. My time was a little slow, but a win's a win, so I'm pretty happy with that."
Costella's time was a little slower than her personal best of 16:26.13.
"I'm obviously happy with her coming away with a win," Tigershark coach Jim Puleo said. "You know what, a win's a win. I'm proud of her. She did a great job."
Costella ran down Alyssa Kiel, 15, of the Lake Erie Silver Dolphins around the 700-meter mark, shifted into a higher gear and cruised to the win. Kiel finished second with a time of 16:36.86.
"Lauren swam a really smart race," Puleo said. "Lauren just kept her composure and reeled her in. She beat some pretty tough competition."
Costella said she just wanted to stay relaxed. "She took it out pretty fast," said Costella about Kiel. "I was staying pretty much with the field.
"I took it out where it was pretty comfortable, without letting the other girls get too far ahead of me. I just wanted to watch where they were, and around the 600 or 700 mark, I started to pick up the pace and catch (Kiel), which was part of the plan.
"Then I wanted to keep going and break up her race plan a little bit. That was my strategy, and I guess it worked."
Puleo said Costella showed strong mental toughness after a meet in which she didn't do as well as she would have liked.
"We went into the meet wanting to swim faster," Puleo said. "We were just a little bit off.
"She is so tough. She was able to take the disappointment and come back in the mile."
Costella and Tigershark teammate Tara Theilemann will swim in the U.S. Open Water 5K National Championships today. The top two swimmers will advance to a competition to be held in the Cayman Islands.