The man Lou Otremba considers to be among his fiercest triathlon competitors has been on his tail forever, it seems. Perhaps it's because that man, Larry Otremba, is Lou's younger brother by two minutes.
"We did a little sprint race in April and I came out of the water in
first place," said Lou, 19. "I got on the bike, but before I could think, Larry blew by me like I was standing still."
Despite being in their sport for only four years, Lou is ranked No. 2 among junior amateurs (19 and under) while Larry ranks No. 7.
But aside from their rankings and a scar on the right side of Larry's stomach, the twins -- 5-foot-7, 145 pounds -- carry few distinguishing traits.
"Most people can't tell them apart," said Laura Otremba, their mother.
"When we take stress tests to measure body fat and aerobic capacity, the results are like a 10th of a point either way and we each have about 5 to 10 percent body fat," Larry said. "It's like we're identical with pinpoint accuracy."
It's no wonder that during a race, Lou often feels as if he's looking into a rear-view mirror at his mirror-image -- a guy with matching dark brown hair and eyes.
"He's always there to push me and always wants to beat me," said Lou, adding that Larry designs many of their exercises.
A week's training on average consists of up to 20,000 yards in the pool, 250 miles of cycling and 20 to 40 miles of running.
"The workouts can get pretty monotonous," Lou said, "so it helps to have someone like him around when you're training four to five hours long and hammering pedals on a bike while most people are still sleeping."
The sleep deprivation has led to immediate success for the Joppatowne residents and 1993 Calvert Hall graduates.
The twins earned their rankings by placing highly in separate triathlons, which cover 15,000 meters of swimming, 40 kilometers (24.8 miles) of cycling and 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of running.
Lou's runner-up effort among juniors (he was fifth overall) in the May 22 Columbia Triathlon earned him a spot on the Olympic Developmental Program's six-member Junior National Team.
Larry qualified as the team's alternate by finishing fourth among juniors in the June 12 Vine Man International Triathlon.
They departed with the team on Friday for an all-expenses-paid, five-day trip to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. A similar trip (Aug. 7-12) will end the training for the Nov. 28 World Championships in Wellington, New Zealand.
The brothers also received a $4,000 training cycle, a World Team clothing package and wet suits.
"It's a really good deal, but the work is just beginning," said Lou, who expects to complete eight triathlons this summer alongside his brother.
Though they sometimes have to train separately for a while to lighten the intensity of their workouts, the Otremba twins have been inseparable.
They began their swimming careers when they were 7 in the Joppatowne Recreation Program and later helped Calvert Hall to three straight Maryland Scholastic Association titles.
As freshmen at Gettysburg (Va.) College last year they helped the swimming team to the Centennial Conference championship. They're also the co-head coaches of the Edgewood Aquanauts swim team.
"When I'm talking about me, you can take the 'I' and apply it as we," says Larry. "We've always done everything together."
It's no coincidence the twins suffered swimming burnout simultaneously as Calvert Hall sophomores.
"We'd been swimming twice a day for a total of four hours and were getting kind of fried mentally," Larry said. "We got some racing bikes, decided to throw some running in there and tried some triathlons."
They were a hit in their initial race in June 1991: Lou won their age group (fourth overall) and Larry was second (seventh overall).
The next summer, they met three-time Iron Man triathlete Kirk Corsello, a 27-year-old North Harford graduate who became their mentor.
"Kirk introduced us to the upper echelon of the sport," Larry said. "He taught us how to train and made it fun."
Since they've known Corsello, Lou has beaten him twice -- including in the Columbia Triathlon this past May.
"When I crossed the finish line, I cried like a baby," Lou said. "I owe a lot of it to having a training partner like Larry. It's a great advantage."