This story was updated at 6 p.m. July 30.
The governing organization of the nation’s swim clubs has requested a hearing for Wednesday to investigate allegations of “sexual misconduct” against prominent Washington-area swim coach Rick Curl.
Curl, 62, is the founder of the Curl-Burke Swim Club, one of the largest swim clubs in the country. A former swimmer, Kelley Currin, told the Washington Post she had sex with Curl during a four-year span starting when she was 13. Currin, whose maiden name is Davies, is 43 now. The Post detailed Currin’s accusations in an article published July 25.
In the wake of the allegations, the swim club has decided to change its decades-old name and asked its swimmers to not wear gear adorned with the Curl-Burke name or logo.
The governing body, USA Swimming, said it already has initiated the process to deal with complaints of sexual misconduct.
The USA Swimming statement, released Friday, had said “an expedited hearing” was scheduled for Monday. On Monday, The Gazette learned the hearing would be Wednesday.
“We hope she will take part in this process, as reporting remains an integral part of the Safe Sport program,” the USA Swimming statement said.
The Safe Sport program makes efforts in six areas including policies and guidelines, screening and selection, training and education, monitoring and supervision, recognizing, reporting and responding, and engagement and feedback.
In an email obtained by The Gazette to the swim club’s parents, club officials said they were changing the name of the club to CUBU. The club often used CUBU as its nickname.
“What’s been reported has been very tragic,” Tom Ugast, director of operations at CUBU, told The Gazette. “We just want to make sure that we are doing everything we need to do to make everyone feel safe.”
Ugast said the new name may be temporary and could be part of a larger rebranding.
“Our swimmers listen to us. We want to protect them,” Ugast said on the apparel enforcement. “We don’t want them to be ridiculed.”
The email, which parents received Thursday evening, came from Rob Washburn, head coach of the club’s Germantown location.
An official club statement will be released shortly but in the meantime I want to give you a quick update. This is just a portion of the decisions that were made today at the Head Coaches meeting.
-The name Curl Burke Swim Club has been terminated effective immediately.
-Effective immediately no Curl Burke attire should be worn at any time.
-For the four remaining meets this summer, sectionals, Jr. nationals, and the US Open swimmers will compete as CUBU NOT Curl Burke Swim Club. Zone swimmers will wear all zone apparel ONLY.
-Head Coaches have been and are continuing to meet to discuss the total rebranding, i.e. new name, new logo and new business model.
-I will be the head coach of the Germantown site. All inquiries/question should be directed to me.
-Our entire Germantown coaching staff has been retained.
-I have secured all our pool time for the upcoming season.
Thank you all for your outpouring of support and kind words.
Take care,Rob”Currin told the Post she and Curl had sex when she was 13 and Curl, then 33, was her coach. Currin claims Curl paid her family $150,000 to keep quiet about the affair, according to the Post.
Currin is speaking out for the first time in 23 years.
Curl, who started the club in 1978, has taken a leave of absence effective immediately, according to the swim club’s website. Ugast said Curl has not coached any Curl-Burke swimmers in the last eight years.
The Tom Dolan Swim School has decided to sever ties with Curl, according to a letter from Dolan on his website. Curl coached Dolan to three medals in the Olympics in 1996 and 2000.
Mike O’Brien, the owner of Underwater Wear in Gaithersburg, said his daughter swam with Curl-Burke through 2004 without any problems.
“Rick’s a very good guy,” O’Brien said. “We’ll just have to see how it plays out. There [are] always two sides to every story.”
O’Brien’s store carries a number of car magnets, travel mugs, hooded sweatshirts, T-shirts and jackets adorned with the Curl-Burke name and logo. He plans to continue working with the swim club.
Joe Flaherty said he has not yet seen any direct effects on his team, Joe Flaherty’s Dolphins, and RMSC coach Dave Greene said the allegations surrounding Curl are a “sensitive topic.”
“We as a club are doing everything we can to make sure that our coaching staff is doing all of the right things,” Greene said.
Ugast said Curl-Burke has about 1,900 competitive swimmers across 11 sites, including Holton Arms School in Bethesda, Georgetown Prep in Rockville, Quince Orchard in Gaithersburg and Germantown.
Ugast said no upcoming competitions would be affected. Although there is no date set for rebranding, Ugast said it is “being worked on every day.”
Editor’s note: This story previously said that the hearing was scheduled for Monday. This story was updated to reflect the change to Wednesday.