When Greg Erb, 13, of Burke stepped up to the starting block in a recent Northern Virginia Swim League meet, a timer accused him of trying to compete in more than the allowed two events per swimmer.

That complaint was quickly silenced when Greg and identical twin brother Glenn approached the pool to compete in the 13-14 boys medley relay for their Old Keene Mill team. It was then that the timer realized he was dealing with look alike brothers. The two had competed in separate events, Greg in the freestyle and breaststroke and Glenn in the butterfly and backstroke.

This splitting of events had prevented the slender, red-headed pair from rivaling each other throughout the summer league, but toward the end of the season they met in the Division III championships. "We were both in the individual medley at divisionals," Greg Erb explained. "We wanted to beat each other in that, but Glenn beat me."

Glenn Erb won the event only tenths of a second ahead of Greg, but both qualified for the NVSL all-star meet. Glenn finished fifth in the all-star meet in 1:11.44 and Greg was 11th in 1:13.82.

The twins were introduced to swimming when brother Scott, now 17, started swimming in Colorado.

"Scott used to go to the community pool," their mother Judy Erb explained. "He started doing his breaststroke and they asked him to join the swim team. Glenn and Greg went to all of Scott's meets and found that it wasn't as fun to sit and watch as to be in the pool."

That was five years ago. Today, in his first NVSL season after his family's recent move from Virginia Beach, Scott's breaststroke is up to nationally ranked time.

As one of the Old Keene Mill team's top swimmers, he has won the 15-18 events in most of this season's meets. His participation in the U.S. Junior Nationals this week could help him reach his goals of qualifying for senior competition.

As a member of the Lake Braddock varsity swim team -- he also competes year-round for Coach Pete Morgan of Curl Swim Club -- Scott hopes to get the exposure and experience necessary to earn a college scholarship.

"Swimming is more individual," he said. "You do it for yourself. The team is like a family, but the accomplishments are individual."

Glenn and Greg also have won in the NVSL, finishing atop the division in their respective events. Last year, they were disappointed to find that they couldn't swim for the Lake Braddock High School varsity as eighth graders, but this year, as freshmen, they are eligible and ready.

Throughout the year, Glenn and Greg compete for Burke Swim Club. Their coach is Mark Hesse. Since coming to this area, where they say the competition is much more difficult than in their last club on Virginia's eastern shore, they are steadily improving their strokes and their times.

All three boys have tried other sports. Scott Erb even took a year off from swimming to participate in football, soccer, baseball and other activities, but he decided on swimming. His younger brothers also tried a variety of sports, but came back to swimming.

"There are more rewards in swimming than in other sports," Greg, the more outspoken twin, said. "You get ribbons and medals, and there are always goals to reach."

For Glenn Erb there is one goal in mind. "In Virginia Beach, I would be winning everything right now. It's much more difficult here," said Glenn, who feels that the increased competition has helped him work harder and improve. "I want to go to junior nationals within the next two years. I think it's realistic."

For Judy and her husband Steve Erb, their sons' aspirations have been important and all-consuming.

"We've been fortunate that they are all interested in the same activities," she said. When they moved to Northern Virginia, even the locations of the nearest pools were a consideration in buying a house.

The three brothers drive one another to improve. Scott eagerly helps his brothers work on strokes and times.

"That's a mother's biggest fear -- that one {will win} and not the other," said Judy Erb.

So far, that hasn't been a problem.