Carson City's Hardt, Costella still hopeful at Trials

LONG BEACH, Calif. - Lauren Costella and Julie Hardt didn't have the performances they would have liked at the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials on Thursday.

But luckily for Costella and Hardt, they can still turn it around with their best events yet to come.

Costella's struggles at the Trials continued while Hardt also didn't swim as well as she would have liked in the 400-meter freestyle. Costella, a 2003 Carson High graduate who swims for the Carson Tigersharks, had another subpar effort in the 400, finishing in four minutes, 27.28 seconds. Costella was coming off a subpar effort in the 400 individual medley on Wednesday.

But Costella, who has just completed her freshman year at Stanford, didn't come here for the 400 I.M. and free. Her best event is the 800 free, which she will swim on Tuesday.

Actually, her best event is the 1,500 free. But since that's not an Olympic event, Costella won't get a chance to swim in it at trials.

Stanford coach Richard Quick and Tigersharks coach Jim Puleo reminded Costella after her 400 free that her real mission was the 800 free.

"Refocus on the 800," said Puleo about what Quick told her. "That's been the crux of her focus going into the meet. Obviously, if she does a great job in the 800, it's a successful meet."

Hardt, a 2000 Carson graduate who just finished her senior year at the University of Georgia, also wasn't thrilled with her 400 free in which she finished in 4:21.92.

"I was a little disappointed," she said. "But you know that happens."

But Hardt wasn't aiming at the 400 free either. Her focus is on today's 200 free in which she hopes for a top-six finish which would likely give her a berth into next month's Athens Olympics in the 800 free relay.

Hardt said she was able to learn from her 400 free.

"It points out what I need to work on and focus on tomorrow," said Hardt about today's race.

She said she'll have to go out faster in the first 100 of her 200 free today.

"I definitely need to be faster in the first half of my race than I was today," Hardt said. "I just took the race out too slow - then the rest of the race was too slow, too."

The two former Carson teammates, Hardt and Costella, were able to share a moment to encourage each other after their disappointing races.

"She's a little bit more upset than I am," Hardt said. "We've kind of grown up together. I know her family well."

Hardt said she has learned to take disappointments in stride after her first time at the trials in 2000.

"I was upset after every race," said Hardt about the 2000 trials. "I know it's just a waste of energy to be that upset."

"It wasn't what I wanted, but I can't focus on that," Hardt also said about her 400 free.

Contact Charles Whisnand at or 881-1214.


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