The founder of the Curl-Burke Swim Club, a prominent organization in Montgomery and Prince George's counties that has sent six American swimmers to the Olympics, has been accused of engaging in sexual relations with a minor during the 1980s.
The club announced Monday in a statement on its website that founder Rick Curl has decided to take a leave of absence effective immediately after USA Swimming requested an emergency hearing to investigate the allegations.
USA Swimming was provided with information late Friday afternoon which enabled it to initiate the Board of Review process, USA Swimming Director of Marketing and Brand Development Jamie Fabos Olsen said in an emailed statement to The Gazette.
“In order to protect the integrity of the case, I cannot comment further on its details except to confirm that USA Swimming has initiated the process in place to deal with complaints of sexual misconduct,” she wrote.
Curl founded the swim club in 1978. It was recently named a USA Swimming Gold Medal Club for the 11th consecutive year, dating back to 2002. USA Swimming's Club Excellence Program identifies and recognizes USA Swimming clubs for their commitment to performance and excellence, according to the organization's website.
In nearly 34 years Curl-Burke has grown from one site to 19 spanning Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., making it the nation's largest satellite swim program, according to the organization's website.
The club's four main Maryland facilities are Holton-Arms, Georgetown Prep, Germantown Indoor Swim Center/Quince Orchard Swim Club and the Prince George's Sports and Learning Complex.
The allegations were first reported by the Washington Post, which has additional details The Gazette was unable to confirm.
In the statement on Curl-Burke's website, Tom Ugast, the director of operations since 2010, said the club follows USA Swimming's Safe Sport program to help ensure the safety and well being of everyone involved in swimming.
Safe Sport is a code of conduct adopted during the late 1990s, according to USA Swimming's website, for any adult involved in the sport that includes mandatory reporting requirement as part of its athletes protection policies and guidelines.
In 2010, according to the statement, all of Curl-Burke's coaches attended the first seminar put on by Potomac Valley Swimming in conjunction with USA Swimming to educate coaches in athlete protection.
“I cannot comment further until after the USA Swimming Board has reviewed the case on Aug. 1,” Ugast said. “USA Swimming first contacted us [Monday night].”