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Riley Eaton of Potomac Valley Swimming says coaches now must adhere to new rules designed to safeguard young swimmers

5:20 PM, Jul 27, 2012   |    comments
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SILVER SPRING, Md.  (WUSA) - The alleged sexual abuse between the then 13-year-old swimmer Kelly Currin and her 33-year-old coach Rick Curl back in the 1980s is being called by some in the swimming community "one of the worst kept secrets in Washington." 

 The idea that people may have known something was going on between the two and didn't try to stop it, is upsetting to many parents.

"That makes me very sad," said Beth Gieseman, a mom of three young swimmers. She says she's talked to them about what happened to Currin and feels it's important to keep having discussions with them about being safe.

"They need to understand what is inappropriate. But we have to as parents, do our job well and talk to them about coming forward even if they feel threatened or scared," Gieseman said.

It's not the first time elite swim coaches have been accused of molesting young athletes. Psychiatrist Toni Baum helped set up USA Swimming's new guidelines to protect swimmers after a scandal in 2010. She says parents and coaches need to be aware of inappropriate actions and signs something might be wrong.

"Isolation of an athlete, or a change in their mood, trouble sleeping or changes in their appetite, or training too hard, or kind of becoming disenchanted with the sport. Any change in behavior," said Baum.

As for the swim teams, there are new policies in place... such as rules against allowing coaches to be alone with swimmers. Rile, Eaton, General Chair of Potomac Valley Swimming which oversees Curl Burke says all coaches much go through their new Safe sport program.

"I think we're one of the safest sport out there. We are in fact, the model for many of the other national governing bodies. They're looking at what we do how we do, they're looking at our legislation," said Eaton.

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