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The Nation's Talent Pool: A Pair of Clubs, Backed by Suburban Summer Leagues, Have Made D.C. a Swimming Hotspot

Because of their proximity, CUBU and RMSC are competitive, occasionally facing each other at big meets such as the club national championships or the annual Tom Dolan Invitational at George Mason University in December.

"There are a few swimmers [at RMSC] that I'm pretty good friends and pretty big rivals with," Philip Hu said. "When we're behind the blocks we always say, 'Beat RMSC.' This year, at the Tom Dolan, we got the closest ever in the team scoring. Hopefully next year."

Though the clubs are similar in many ways, they are operationally completely different. Montgomery County and the city of Rockville jointly run the RMSC; Curl-Burke, like North Baltimore Aquatic Club, is privately owned. That translates into a difference in fees. RMSC is, simply, less expensive.

"I think money, with certain families, has something to do with" where they swim, Greene said. "But I think that if kids like where they are swimming, and they like the coach they are swimming with, I don't think it really matters which club they are actually in. Both clubs are so good. There are fast swimmers on both clubs, and very good coaches. . . . Their kids and our kids bring out the best in each other."

Though RMSC has been more dominant in recent years, Curl-Burke has won 10 senior national team titles. They are likely to meet again in Orlando during this year's national club championships in March. After that, everybody takes a break, and the summer swim seasons get underway.

And a new wave of swimmers will be born.

"Both programs have definitely had their highlights," Greene said. "For two teams to be this close together and producing as much talent as they have, it's incredible."

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