Costella set to swim in World University Games

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One could forgive Lauren Costella if she has a sleepless night tonight.

That's because the Carson High graduate, who swims for the Carson Tigersharks, will be heading to South Korea Friday morning to compete in the World University Games. The games are an Olympic-style event for the world's top athletes who attend universities.

It will be the first time that Costella will represent the United States in international competition. She will begin competition on Aug. 23 in the 800-meter freestlye. She will also swim in the 1,500 free and 400 individual medley at the games.

"I think I won't be feeling it until Thursday night," said Costella about today. "I'm definitely feeling a little bit of butterflies."

It was also a thrill for Costella to receive her gear from USA Swimming

"That was pretty exciting just to see the USA logo on all of it," Costella said.

But in a sign of the times due to the international situation, the duffle bag that came with her gear does not have the USA logo on it.

Costella has had some encouraging performances heading into the World University Games. At the Santa Clara Invitational, Costella placed second in the 1,500 free in a meet that featured top international swimmers and was used by many top U.S. swimmers to prepare for the World Championships.

She came back to take fourth at the Janet Evans Invitational in Los Angeles, a strong performance considering Costella was training hard for the World University Games.

"Santa Clara was a great meet for me," Costella said. She said the Janet Evans meet "wasn't as good, but I was definitely in the middle of training. I'm still in the middle of training.

"I just want to go had have fun. It's shaping up like it did in Clovis."

Costella was referring to when she won her first national title in the 1,500 free at Clovis two years ago. She came back to defend her title in Summer Nationals last year, but skipped this year's Summer Nationals to train for the World University Games.

"It was kind of weird looking at the results on the computer," said Costella about nationals.

"I think it was a good trade-off. I got in extra training. I think it was a smart move."

Costella is hoping to medal in the 1,500 and 800 freestyles at the World University Games.

"Those are definitely goals of mine," she said. "I think it's a definite possibility. That's what we've been working towards."

She also hopes to make the final eight in the 400 I.M. "It would be a bonus if I medaled in that, too," Costella said. "it would be icing on the cake."

The ultimate goal for Costella is to qualify for the 2004 Olympics in the 800 free. Unfortunately for Costella, her best event, the 1,500 free, is not an Olympic event.

"That is my goal," Costella said. "It has been for a very long time."

It won't be easy. Only the top two in the U.S. will qualify for the Olympics, which means Costella will have to move up several spots from where she's ranked now.

"I'll be able to improve my 800 by getting faster at the 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle," Costella said. "I need to improve my 200 and 400 frees."

While Costella is swimming 14,000 to 16,000 yards a day, Tigershark coach Jim Puleo is also stressing speed in her training.

"Jim is definitely trying to get my speed down," Costella said. "He knows I have the endurance to hold my speed."

Costella will attend Stanford in the fall. Another reason for going to Stanford is its women's swim team is strong in the sprints, which should help Costella's training.

After she graduates in 2007, it's possible that Costella will go for the 2008 Olympics. "I might stay that later year and go for 2008," she said.

Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor.


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