Currin said the abuse started when she was 13 with a kiss on the lips in front of a water fountain in the hallways of Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda, where the swim club leased the pool. That night, she said, Curl called her at her home. She recalled stretching the cord of the phone into the dining room for privacy. Curl told her, she said, he was “on cloud nine.”
“That,” she said, “was the beginning.”
Currin said she would sneak with Curl into an office at Georgetown Prep after practices, where kissing turned into oral sex and sexual intercourse in a bathroom inside the office. She said Curl told her she was “special” and, on a number of occasions: “Don’t worry, if we get caught, I’ll take half of the blame.”
“By the time I was 14, in my little 14-year-old brain, it was very much a love affair,” she said. “I loved him. . . . Any problem I had, he would fix it.”
She said sexual intercourse occurred on nearly every road trip, including in the stairwell of a hotel shortly after Curl got married; at his house when he would put in pornographic movies; and even at her parents’ house while they were home. Because she lived in Ashton, 30 minutes away from Georgetown Prep, Curl occasionally would offer to drive her to early morning practices, she said, and her unsuspecting parents offered him a bedroom to save him the drive.
Currin’s revelation comes in the wake of a handful of lawsuits filed in recent years against USA Swimming by youth swimmers who allege that adult coaches abused them. USA Swimming has since instituted an awareness program, mandatory background checks and other safeguards, including requiring that its members report any inappropriate activity.
Curl, the 1994 American Swimming Coaches Association Coach of the Year, has been a member of the U.S. national team coaching staff. Curl functions mostly as the Curl-Burke Swim Club’s chief executive rather than an on-deck coach currently, according to coaches at the club.
Currin won a gold medal in the 200-meter butterfly at the 1987 Pan Pacific Championships in Brisbane, Australia, and finished fourth in 100 fly at the 1986 Goodwill Games in Moscow. She still holds the top times in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle among Curl-Burke swimmers ages 13-14. Olympian Katie Ledecky last July broke her 28-year-old record in the 100 butterfly among 13-14-year-olds.
Currin told The Post that for years she was fearful of speaking out because of the threat of possible legal action from Curl based on the confidentiality provisions in the agreement. Allard told USA Swimming in an e-mail provided to The Post that she would not testify at any hearing, questioning the legitimacy of the process and arguing that the document itself provided sufficient evidence for action to be taken.
In an e-mail from USA Swimming’s attorney Rich Young, which was provided to The Post, Young said Currin’s testimony could be critical to the case.
‘A big step for her’
Curl ceased communication with Currin after her parents found out, she said. She said at that time she felt heartbroken and devastated. Though she won the gold medal in the 200 fly at the Pan Pacific Championships in 1987, the year she entered college, she finished seventh in the event at the U.S. Olympic trials in 1988, failing to make the U.S. Olympic team.
A day later, she said, she entered a treatment facility in Texas, where she spent two months receiving care for an eating disorder. After she was released, her family negotiated the settlement.
Currin said she confided in a number of people when the relationship ended, including Bill Bullough, the founder of the Rockville-Montgomery Swim Club. Bullough said she told him of a sexual relationship with Curl but did not provide specifics. At the time, she was seeking another club with which to train when she returned home from college.
“We provided her an opportunity to get back and swim and support her,” Bullough said Saturday. “We did hear [about a sexual relationship] from her. It was none of our business. She wasn’t all that comfortable [talking about it]. It was a big step for her to say, ‘I’d like to swim, but I can’t go back to that guy.’ ”
Added Bullough: “She wasn’t asking for help from us. It was like, ‘Hey, this is behind me; I’d like to keep it behind me.’ . . . She hadn’t gone public. It didn’t sound like she wanted to deal with it [publicly]. Out of respect for her, we didn’t tell anybody.”
In a rule instituted in September 2010, USA Swimming requires that members report inappropriate activity when they become aware of it. If the alleged activity appears to be criminal, USA Swimming is required to inform the proper authorities.
A teammate at Curl-Burke said Currin told her shortly before the 1988 Olympic trials what had happened.