Local swimmers strong at nationals

Local swimmers all had encouraging efforts as the National Championships came to a close on Saturday.

Carson High graduate Julie Hardt, who just completed her career this past spring at the University of Georgia, had a solid effort in taking 10th in the 50-meter freestyle.

Meanwhile, Carson High graduate Lauren Costella, swimming for the Carson Tigersharks, placed 16th in the 1,500-meter freestyle in 17 minutes, 3.88 seconds. Also for the Tigersharks, Jamie Engan, who will be a junior at Carson, took 21st in 17:12.57.

It's been a disappointing summer for Costella, who will be a sophomore at Stanford. Costella was coming off a disappointing effort at the U.S. Olympic Trials.

"It's not a great swim for her," said Tigershark coach Jim Puleo about Costella's effort on Saturday.

But Puleo noted that Costella swam the first 800 in 9:01.9, which was faster than what she swam the 800 free in on Tuesday. "She never ceases to amaze me," Puleo said. "She's got the heart of a champion."

Puleo also noted there was another swimmer who tried to catch Costella in the last 50 meters. "Lauren just refused to let that happen," he said.

He also said that Costella has the "heart to turn around a disappointing season" in the future.

Engan's first 800 was just three seconds slower than the 9:00.14 that she had in her 800 on Tuesday. Despite fading somewhat in the second half, Engan still shaved 20 seconds off her personal best.

"She really hasn't learned to package these swims," Puleo said. "She's still essentially learning how to swim."

Hardt qualified 15th for the finals in the 50 free in 26.68. She finished 10th in the finals in 26.52, which was faster than her seeded time of 26.58.

In addition, Hardt swam with her sister, Kate Hardt, another Carson graduate who will be a junior at the University of Minnesota, in the 400 medley relay for Reno Aquatics. They took 11th in 4:21.22.

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