Murray High School swimmers end season with many turning to water polo
Senior Jonah Black stands atop the podium after winning first place at the 4A state swim finals. (Travis Barton/City Journals)
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It’s transition time for swimmers at Murray High School. Having just completed their swim season weeks ago, many of them are now turning their attention to water polo.
“We had solid boys and girls swim seasons this year,” said Spartans first-year head coach Kim Parkinson. “Now we’re working to make a run at the state water polo championships.”
In her first year at the helm of the swim teams, Parkinson guided the Murray boys to a ninth-place finish – at the Class 4A finals – and the girls, 15th.
Three seniors each earned medals in two different events during the final meet. Jonah Black was state champion in the 100 butterfly. He swam away by a huge margin, beating the second-place finisher by nearly three seconds. Jonah also placed second in the 100 backstroke.
Senior Gage Milligan earned fourth place state final medals in two different races, the 100 and 200 freestyle.
And on the girls’ side, senior Madelyn Flower placed second in the 100 breaststroke and fifth in the 200 individual medley.
“Every single one of my swimmers set personal time records at state, in at least one of their events,” Parkinson said. “So even though we didn’t place as high as a team as we would have liked, it was an excellent meet with lots of improvement.”
The coaches and athletes didn’t spend much time celebrating, however. Just three days after the 4A state finals, tryouts for the Murray water polo teams got underway.
While this was her first year as head swim team coach, Parkinson is a veteran head water polo coach, now into her fourth season. And this spring she has some help.
“A lot of people don’t even know me as Kim Parkinson yet,” she said. “Until just a couple of months ago, it was Kim Durrant.”
On November 30, Kim married Adam Parkinson, someone she met while the two were playing in a water polo club league. Now he’s taken over head coaching the boys water polo team, while she’s in charge of the girls.
“Adam’s played water polo all over the country and is a four-time state champion,” she said. “Our boys are in great hands. And since the boys and girls often practice together, he and I will both work with each team.”
Adam learned the game of water polo under legendary Kearns coach Brad Peercy, who’s been head of that team nearly 30 years. “He was my head water polo coach when we won the state titles in 2010 through 2013,” Adam said. “Since then, I’ve had the chance to compete in tournaments in Las Vegas, California, New Mexico, Florida, even Cancun, Mexico.”
Water polo is not an officially sanctioned Utah high school sport, but a very popular club sport. Kim says there are about 21 teams across the state.
Last year Murray had about 35 boys on the JV and varsity teams, along with 18 girls.
Fresh off his two-medal state swimming finals, Gage Milligan is one of the boys’ water polo team captains. But one key athlete is missing on the girls’ side.
“Maddie (Flower) was one of our best water polo players,” Kim said. “But now that she’s earned her swim scholarship (at BYU), she told me she wants to concentrate on preparing for that season. It’s a blow (not having her on the water polo team), but I don’t blame her. We’ll still be strong.”
In fact, Kim and Adam say both teams have a shot at winning state championships for Murray.
“Kearns is yet again the team to beat,” Kim said. “Last year, our boys lost the championship game to them, while our girls finished third. But we only lost a couple of seniors from those teams, and I think we can give them a run for their money this year.”