The Reston-based Snowbird Aquatics swim club is in its first year of competition, but has wasted little time making a name for itself.
Top area swimmers such as three-time All-Met Greg Long, who won the boys race at Potomac Valley Swimming's Summer Distance Meet last Saturday at Fairland Aquatics Center in Laurel, are the reason Snowbird has started strong.
"We are basically the same team with a different name," said Long, who swam for the Solotars for 12 years until the team folded after last season. Former Solotars assistant coach Mike Pliuskaitis formed Snowbird, a team that includes All-Mets Justin Caron (Paul VI), Cynthia Roller (Herndon) and Laura Ullrich (Centreville), and second-team All-Met Ian Chadsey (Flint Hill).
Saturday's meet consisted of one event, the 800-yard freestyle. Long, who graduated from South Lakes this month, posted the fastest time: 8 minutes 52.27 seconds. This fall, Long will begin his college swimming career at Stanford, which has won eight men's national championships, including four in the past eight years.
"This is kind of preparation for school, but I still have goals for the summer. I want to make my Olympic trial cuts and keep moving forward," said Long, who is hoping to qualify for the U.S. Olympic trials in the 100 and 200 freestyles and the 200 and 400 individual medley.
Katie Shipko, who swims for Occoquan Swimming of Woodbridge and just completed her freshman year at Seton (Va.), captured the girls division of Saturday's meet in 9:43.46.
All 41 of Curl-Burke Swim Club's graduating high school seniors have made commitments to compete on college swimming teams. Over 60 percent have earned athletic or academic scholarships.
"We pride ourselves on making connections with universities all around the country," said Rick Curl, who founded the Damascus team in 1978. "At any one time, we typically have over 100 kids competing in college."
Included in this year's graduates are three-time All-Met Molly Freedman (Sidwell Friends), who has committed to North Carolina; two-time All-Met Mike Nicholas (Paul VI), who has committed to James Madison; and All-Met Devin Crock (O'Connell), one of three Curl-Burke swimmers who have committed to Florida State. Second-team All-Met Justin Betts and Rachael Cully are the others.
Second-team All-Mets Juan Valdivieso (Landon) and Mark Levin (W.T. Woodson) have committed to Princeton and Johns Hopkins, respectively. Three Curl-Burke girls swimmers who were named second-team All-Met last winter also have made commitments: Kim Green (Good Counsel) to Richmond, Miriam Lynch (Lake Braddock) to Howard, and Allyson Hamilton (West Springfield) to South Carolina.
Freedman and Lauren Stinnett (South Lakes, SMU) have decided to delay enrolling in college for a year to train with Curl-Burke for the U.S. Olympic trials. Valdivieso, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Peru, also will defer one year to train in hopes of making Peru's Olympic team.