Locals to swim in nationals

Carson High senior Lauren Costella will be going for a three-peat of sorts at the U.S. Spring Swimming Championships.

Costella has won the national title the last two years in the 1,500-meter freestyle at summer nationals. She will be going for her third national title in the event when the spring nationals are held April 1-5 in Indianapolis.

She will be joined at nationals by Tara Theilemann, another Carson High senior. Both Costella and Theilemann swim for the Carson Tigersharks.

Other local swimmers scheduled to compete in Indianapolis include Carson High graduate Julie Hardt, who just completed her junior season at the University of Georgia where she helped the Bulldogs to a second place finish at the NCAA Championships.

Costella may have a little extra incentive going into nationals. Despite being a two-time national champion in the event, she's seeded third in the 1,500.

She will also compete in the 800 and 400 freestyles, the 400 individual medley and the 200 butterfly. Costella has Olympic trial cuts in the 400 and 800 freestyles and the 400 I.M. and will be shooting to make the Olympic trial cut in the 200 fly.

Her best time in the 200 fly is two minutes, 17.67 seconds, less than a second off the 2:16.69 Olympic trial qualifying cut.

"I feel really confident about it,' said Costella about making the Olympic trial cut. "After last summer, I think we've had a really good training season."

But Costella's best event, the 1,500 free, is not an Olympic event. "It would be extremely nice," said Costella about the 1,500 free eventually becoming an Olympic event. "I would definitely have the cut. I would definitely be one of the contenders."

Costella's best chance to make the Olympic team figures to be the 800 free. She'll represent the United States this summer in the World University Games in South Korea. Costella, who will also compete for Stanford, will swim in 1,500 and 800 freestyles and the 400 I.M. in Korea.

Originally, Costella wasn't going to swim in her best event, the 1,500 free.

"I was really happy with that," said Costella about having the chance to swim in the 1,500 free in Korea.

At 5-5, Costella is at a disadvantage in short course meets when bigger swimmers can make up ground on the turns. But the nationals will be a long course meet, which figures to give Costella more of an advantage.

"I make up lots of ground when I'm swimming long course," she said. "I think it's more of a race. I think it's more of swimming rather than turns."

In 2000, Costella competed in the Olympic trials in Indianapolis. "It's a really fast pool," she said. "I'm really looking forward to going back."

Theilemann will compete in the 100 and 200 freestyles and will do a time trial in the 400 free. She competed in her first nationals last summer. Despite recovering from a bout with strep throat, Theilemann was able to post her best time in the 200 free.

"I was happy that I got best time, but I feel I could have gone a little faster," said Theilemann, who will swim for Alabama. "I was a little bit out of shape.

I probably needed another week before I went to nationals to get back in shape. I really didn't feel 100 percent when I got back there."

Theilemann also underwent knee surgery in December, but says she's healthy now. "I'm back in shape," she said.

At last year's nationals, Theilemann swam in the 2:06 range in the 200 free and said she would like to go under 2:04 in Indianapolis. Theilemann said she hopes to break at least one minute in the 100 free.

Costella is also seeded seventh in the 800 free, 13th in the 400 I.M., 34th in the 400 free and 78th in the 200 fly. Theilemann is seeded 91st in the 200 free and 110th in the 100 free.

Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor.

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