Home mission statement Former civil engineering student breaks team rowing world record

Former civil engineering student breaks team rowing world record

A Nonstop flight from San Francisco to Oahu, Hawaii typically takes five and a half hours. For Libby Costello ’19, the 2,400 mile journey halfway across the Pacific Ocean took a record 34 days, 14 hours and 11 minutes. Why? She and her three teammates rowed the distance.

Costello, a Bruin rowing and civil engineering alumnus of the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, and her former UCLA teammate Sophia Denison-Johnson were joined by two other elite rowers – Adrienne Smith and Brooke Dowes – in the tremendous rowing feat achieved in July of this year.

The foursome set a world record for the fastest rowing time from San Francisco Bay to Hawaii by an all-female team. The journey required months of physical, mental, emotional and logistical training.

Costello and his teammates departed the San Francisco Bay Area on June 21.

“Excellence is a habit, and we practice it every day,” Costello said. “Our mission statement was ‘Raise the greatness of everyone and get to Hawaii as fast as possible.'”

The four women set off on their adventure on June 21, rowing and resting in two-hour shifts with just 10 to 90 minutes of sleep a day and prepackaged meals to last the grueling journey. Just in time for sunset on July 25, Costello and his rowing team pulled into the Honolulu docks to the roaring cheers of a crowd of friends, family and fans.

Being on the open sea for so long turned out to be a rewarding experience in more ways than Costello had imagined.

“It’s time to think about so many things when you’re out there in the middle of the Pacific, it’s kind of comforting and magical,” Costello said. “There was time for everything – periods of quiet, periods of reflection, periods of long chants, periods of what that cloud looks like.”

It was during one of these moments that Costello reflected on her life and what led her to find herself on a boat in the middle of the sea – a rowing journey that began when she was a freshman in high school.

Growing up in New Jersey, Costello and her best friend from college had raced track together, but track season wasn’t until the spring. So her friend suggested they try rowing in their freshman year, as there was both a fall and spring season, and the couple immediately found their new favorite sport in high school.

When Costello moved to another school after ninth grade, she continued rowing and even found it healing as she adjusted to being away from her friends. It wasn’t long before the high school athlete knew she wanted to pursue the sport with an NCAA Division I rowing team at a university that wasn’t on the East Coast and could provide high quality education. With his list of requirements in hand, Costello decided to fly to California to check out UCLA.

“I remember vividly, when the weekend was over and it was time to go to the airport, I still didn’t feel ready to leave,” Costello said. I wanted to stay because I already felt at home.

“In terms of professional background, UCLA is very much like a build-it-yourself adventure – There are so many resources that can be tapped into, and it is up to each student to use them,” said Libby Costello.

As a rower at UCLA, Costello had to constantly juggle school and morning workouts at Marina del Rey, as well as traveling for competitions — no small feat for an engineering student.

Loving math from a young age, Costello knew early on that she wanted to apply math to the real world as an engineer. As for the type of engineer, she had to take courses before she could decide.

She quickly narrowed her options to mechanical and civil engineering, but let fate decide by tossing a coin. The choice fell on civil engineering, and it is a choice that she says she is happy to have made.

“In terms of career pathing, UCLA is very much like a self-made adventure – There are so many resources that can be tapped into, and it’s up to each student to use them,” Costello said. “UCLA equips its students with the skills and the community to take on anything, should they choose to.”

Libby Costello
Costello (far left) and his teammates celebrated the end of the row from the docks.

Costello took classes in everything — from engineering to aliens. She was also a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers at UCLA and worked with UCLA’s athletic facilities department during the summer in addition to being on the rowing team.

After graduating from UCLA, Costello continued rowing and discovered a passion for team endurance challenges, which eventually led her to join the Lat 35 racing team to beat the record. The team also rowed in support of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

At the end of the voyage, and amid a whirlwind of excitement surrounding his team’s record accomplishment, Costello took just two weeks to recuperate and retrain his atrophied leg muscles after being at sea for more than two weeks. one month. Then, she returned to work as an environmental engineer, after her two-month furlough for the rank.

At engineering consulting firm AECOM in Oakland, Calif., Costello helps corporate clients develop waste reduction plans. Since starting her job last September, Costello said her work has helped her find a passion for figuring out how the production and handling of waste affects the environment and those in it. Combining his passions for his sport and the environment, one of Costello’s personalities ultimate professional goals is to design waste management systems for Olympic venues and other sports facilities.

Now that she’s back ashore, Costello is also working to implement the goals she set for herself at sea, which include reuniting with friends, getting to know her new community in the Bay Area and s sign up for hip-hop dance classes.

“Then when I feel like training for something extreme and tough again, I’ll start thinking about what it could be,” Costello said. “For now, we’re having fun!”

Natalie Weber contributed to this story.