Costella places third in nationals

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Carson Tigershark coach Jim Puleo said Lauren Costella lost control in the 800-meter freestyle on Tuesday at the United States Swimming Spring National Championships.

Well, Costella regained control in the 400 individual medley on Thursday. Costella placed third in the event while also easily eclipsing the U.S. Olympic trials qualifying standard in Minneapolis.

Costella finished a disappointing ninth in the 800 free on Tuesday.

"Her swim was an anomoly of the way she's been training," said Puleo about the 800 free. "She went out there and just lost control of herself."

But in the 400 I.M., Costella qualified fourth in the preliminaries in four minutes, 57.36 seconds. She then lowered her time in the finals to 4:52.48 to finish third. Adrienne Binder won the event in 4:44.65.

The Olympic trials standard is 4:55.87. "I think she just settled herself down," Puleo said.

"She's a smart kid. I'd rather her make a mistake now than two years from now when we're in Long Beach at the Olympic trials."

Puleo said he and Costella will do a little extra work on her freestyle stroke this morning. Costella will compete against a tough field today in the 400 free.

Among those competing will be 800 free champion Diana Munz, two-time national champion Ashley Chandler, Binder and Haley Peirsol, the sister of Aaron Peirsol, who set the world record in the 200 backstroke earlier in the meet.

"It's wide open, but you're going to have some great talent in the 400, which is short for her," said Puleo about Costella.

Costella will defend her title from last summer's national championships in the 1,500 free on Saturday. While Costella is seeded No. 1, Puleo said she should be seeded fourth behind Munz, Peirsol and Binder.

"She is not the favorite," Puleo said. "She's going to have to show what she's made of."

NCAA Championships

Carson High graduates Julie Hardt and Dana Baum had strong showings at the NCAA Championships on Thursday in Austin, Texas.

Swimming for the University of Georgia, Hardt placed ninth in the 500-yard free. After qualifying 11th in the preliminaries in 4:45.19, Hardt lowered her time considerably in finishing ninth in 4:39.89 in the consolation finals.

Georgia, the three-time defending national champion, was in second after Thursday, with 127 points, trailing Auburn (153).

Swimming for the University of Minnesota, Baum qualified 15th in the preliminaries in 4:46.11 and finished 15th in the consolation finals.


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