Steffan Sonneveldt, 12, looked over the 11- to 12-year-old contestants in the 50-meter freestyle poised at the shallow end of the Adelphi pool.

"We're gonna lose this one," Sonneveldt, who swims for the Greenbelt team, said from the sideline.

"The kid who is staying with us, Ian, does this in 31" seconds, Sonneveldt said.

Sonneveldt's family was one of several in Adelphi and Greenbelt that have been hosting 36 swimmers from Bermuda's largest swimming club for a week of competition here. The local club is among a growing number of Washington area teams that reflect increased participation by teen-agers in organized swimming.

By the end of their week's stay, the Bermudans had found the competition they were looking for, plus a chance to sample fast food, shopping and movies with their newfound Maryland friends. And the Adelphi and Greenbelt swimmers had discovered their island counterparts were sophisticated both in and out of the water.

Ian Raynor dived into the pool, did not surface for the first 20 yards, and after eight deft strokes took a lead of several seconds that he held all the way to the finish.

"They're just like our kids," said Betty Sonneveldt, meet manager for the Greenbelt team. "It's not like having foreign guests, it's like having the neighborhood kids over," she said.

Bermuda's Harbour Amateur Swim Club, with members aged 8 to 18, has been competing against swimmers from the 36-team Prince-Mont Swim league since Wednesday. Since 1976 they have spent one week each summer with local swim clubs in different cities on the East Coast.

The Bermuda team's coach, Garreth Davies, wanted his swimmers to have a wider range of competition than that offered by the two other teams on their 21-mile-long island. One of his swimmers, 14-year-old Craig Morby, responded by breaking a 19-year-old Adelphi pool record.

They also found that there is a wider range of things to do in Maryland than in Bermuda, where there are no shopping malls and the best radio station plays only two rock songs an hour.

"Shopping cheaply," was Patricia Gutteridge's first response when asked about her latest trip to America.

"Travel fast," said Roger Betschart, 18. "The speed limit in Bermuda is only 20 mph," he said, recalling the thrill of zipping around the Capital Beltway. One visitor is barely suppressing an urge to snatch a "55 MPH" sign from the Beltway to show the folks back home.

"Chuck E. Cheese," Nicholas Swan, Alexandra Dowling and Chip Popper, all 10, said almost in unison. Fast food, except for Kentucky Fried Chicken, is not allowed in Bermuda.

"Our government thinks it's all messy and will cause trash all over the place," said Swan, the son of Bermuda Premier John Swan.

In their last meet of the week before they return home Tuesday, the visitors swam away from the Greenbelt team. No official score was kept, and some of the older Bermudans joked with their hosts over plans for another evening of fun and exploration in northern Prince George's.

"Can they spend money!" exclaimed Shannon Coll, 18, from Adelphi.

"You come here and you just buy album after album after album," said Betschart. He said his friend Michael Jefferies spent $160 in five minutes at the Kemp Mill Record store in the Greenway Shopping Center.