Lily Costello sets sights on world champs

Lily Costello, 16, of Blacksmiths at Red Head Beach. Lily has been selected for the Australian Youth Team for the International Surf Rescue Challenge. Picture: Max Mason Hubers LILY Costello leaves on Tuesday to join her first Australian surf lifesaving team, but she is already focused on working towards her next squad on an even bigger stage.
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The 16-year-old from Blacksmiths will be one of eight girls on the 16-member youth national team which is part of a 32-strong Australian squad to contest the three-Test series, International Surf Rescue Challenge against No.1 rivals New Zealand in Maroochydore.

Costello will go into camp ahead of the first Test on Thursday morning thrilled to train and compete in the green and gold alongside some of her surf idols.

National ironman and ironwoman series champions Ali Day and Liz Pluimers, who will be in Newcastle in December defending their titles, are among the stars in the open Australian side.

‘‘I’m looking forward to just competing with some of my friends and against New Zealand, that will be exciting,’’ Costello said.

‘‘There will be also be athletes like Harriet Brown, Georgia Miller, Ali Day and all that.

‘‘I look up to them, so I’m excited about that as well.’’

Past the thrill of her debut, Costello is focused on proving herself on the international stage ahead of next year’s Lifesaving World Championships, to be held from September 1-18 in the Netherlands.

‘‘I really want to go well here then hopefully over to Aussies and have a good chance to be named for the worlds team going to the Netherlands,’’ she said.

‘‘This will obviously give me a little boost. Hopefully if I go well here it will give me good experience to get picked in that team.’’

The Redhead clubbie pushed her claims for Australian selection with gold in the swim, bronze in the ironwoman and fourth place in the board final as a first-year under17s competitor at the national championships in April.

The year 10 student at St Marys, Gateshead, said she started her winter training earlier than usual in preparation for the international tournament and trials for the national ironwoman series at Alexandra Headland on September 12-13.

Her old brother, Isak, will be pushing hard for one of three places in the ironman series that will be on offer, but Lily is going in with little expectation.

‘‘I’ll be up there, and my brother is going to come up and do it, so I was going to stay and have a go at it, just for experience,’’ she said.

‘‘I’d be stoked to get top10, but I’m not sure which girls are doing it. There’s a few of the older girls who are keen to get in, but I’m just doing it for experience.’’

Costello, a former Catherine Hill Bay and Swansea-Belmont club member, said her biggest challenge in preparing for the Test series had been mastering the surf ski.

She moved last season to Redhead, where multiple Australian champion and two-time Olympic kayaker Peter Scott has proven a valuable guide.

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