Carson's Costella honored by Pacific Swimming

The 17-year-old Costella, who competes for the Carson Tigersharks Swim Club, was presented with Pacific Swimming's High School Swimmer of the Year during the ceremony held at the Napa Marriott. Even for a year in which she became a national champion for one mile, this award was something special.

"I was pretty surprised this time. That was pretty exciting. I would say so, considering it was out of everybody and the people who won Swimmer of the Year for college, they're world class, like Natalie Coughlin, who won a gold medal at the World Championships. So to be ranked with someone like her is really exciting," Costella said.

Costella was indeed mentioned in some select company during the night. Natalie Coughlin of the Concord (Calif.) Terrapins and the University of California-Berkeley, was honored as Pacific's Female Swimmer of the Year (for post-high school athletes) after capping off her year with a memorable stretch in which she set world records in the 100- and 200-meter backstroke at the FINA World Cup in East Meadow, N.Y. Coughlin, 19, was also named NCAA Swimmer of the Year after winning three national titles as a freshman at Cal.

"It is a nice award for her," Tigersharks coach Jim Puleo said. "I think this shows that people, her peers and my professional colleagues, are starting to respect her for what she has done in the past and for what she is capable of doing in the future."

Costella is looking forward to even bigger and better in 2002. Next up is the U.S. Spring National Championship meet in Minneapolis on the week of March 19.

"I want to win the 1,500 and I'd like to come in better in the 800 ... I want to win that, too," Costella said of the national meet.

"Training-wise, I'm doing really well. We're putting in a lot of yardage," she went on. "With all of our training, I feel definite improvement in everything that I'm doing right now. I'm definitely improving in workouts and in race, so it's going to be a good season."

Costella and such Tigershark teammates as Justin Barber are typically at the Carson Aquatic Facility twice a day.

"I'm putting in 8,000 meters a practice and we do 16,000 per day ... and then more on the weekends," Costella said.

That translates to swimming up to five miles at each training session and up to 10 miles per day.

Monday through Friday, Costella and her teammates work out at 5:30 a.m. Then after going to school, they're back in the water at 2:30. Three days they spends a half-hour in the weight room. And on Saturday, they get to sleep in because practice time is 7 a.m.

How dedicated are these swimmers? Look at their team bulletin board at the south end of the indoor pool area. For Costella and Barber, there is a reminder that another 900 or so days of quality training remain until they return to the U.S. Olympic Trials (both qualified for the 2000 Trials).

"These kids are unheralded. They come in and bust their butts every day and the majority of them are here twice a day," Puleo said. "Lauren's a hard-working kid. She and a couple of other swimmers in this group, they come here with a very focused idea of what they're supposed to be doing. And I think that's what makes these kids so special.

"No matter what level they get to, that work ethic, that discipline is going to stay with them when they get out of swimming later in life, or they go on to college or go into the business world. I think that is one of the selling points about swimming, or of athletics as a whole."


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