Shark girls team swims to league championship

Malibu High swimming coach Hayden Goldberg celebrates with the girls swim team after winning the Citrus Coast League championship. Photo courtesy of Hayden Goldberg.

The Malibu High Sharks girls swim team are champions of the Citrus Coast League for the first time in 14 years.

The 12 swimmers won the league finals on April 28 at Malibu High School. The last time a group of Malibu girls swimmer won a league championship was 2008.

Sharks coach Mike Mulligan said all the Sharks swam well. 

“They are a really cohesive group with good team chemistry,” he said. “Everyone gets along. They have had a lot of fun working hard this year. We weren’t expected to win league, but when we started looking at the girls’ times compared to the defending champions last year, we saw we had a shot.” 

The Sharks boys swim team finished second in the league finals the same day the girls swam to their first-place finish.

Mulligan, who coaches both teams with Hayden Goldberg, said the Sharks boys are a competitive bunch that push each other in practice daily.

“I attribute that to the great success they had at league finals,” he said.

The girls squad was led by freshman Tallula Murphree, the winner of the 200 and 500 freestyles; senior Valerie Burchard, who finished second in the 200 freestyle and won the 100 butterfly; and junior Vanessa Clarke, the 50 freestyle winner, who also finished third in the 100 freestyle. The three swimmers along with junior Charlie Flores made up the foursome that won the 200 freestyle relay. 

The Sharks, Mulligan said, have been a group of fast swimmers all season, but he and Goldberg didn’t really realize how speedy the team was until they defeated Nordhoff in late March.

“Nordhoff has always beaten us in the past couple of years, but we kind of dominated them and beat them by over 30 points,” he said. 

The 10-member boys swim team was led by sophomore Filip Kurial, who won the 200 freestyle and the 100 fly. His time of 51.56 seconds in the 100 fly set a new school record. Junior Eros Brunel placed well in the 100 fly and 100 breaststroke, and freshman Ranger Murphree, Tallula’s twin brother, placed well in the 100 backstroke. 

“Everybody swam so well,” Mulligan said. “It was so rewarding to see all the hard work they put in pay off at the end.”  

A group of swimmers from both the boys and girls teams will compete at the CIF Prelims at Marguerite Aquatics Complex in Mission Viejo on Thursday. 

The group includes Kurial from the boys team and girls swimmers Burchard, Clarke, Flores, Murphree, and junior Anita Lopez-Vida, who will swim with Burchard, Clarke and Murphree in the 200 medley relay. 

Mulligan said the swim season, which started in February, has been exciting. 

“The team has worked hard, they had fun together, they laughed, and they supported each other during workouts and at the meets.”