By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Perhaps the best way to describe Palisades High’s most recent City Section crown would be “better late than never.”
It took some 46 years, but Palisades has finally been credited with the boys swimming title in 1974 thanks to the due diligence of team member Dennis Moore and Coach Dave Anderson, who sent newspaper clippings from the Palisadian-Post and Los Angeles Times to City Section Sports Information Director Dick Dornan after learning that official records listed only Chatsworth as champion that year when, in actuality, the Chancellors and Dolphins shared the title with 58 points each.
“After reviewing each article we’ve made the change and added Pali as co-champs,” said Dornan, who confirmed the Dolphins’ City title total for all sports is now 217—115 more than any other school. “All documents have been updated and posted on our website.”
City records didn’t recognize Palisades as co-champion in 1974, but the banner hanging on the wall of the Pali High gym always has. So when he read an article called “City Supremacy” in the April 16, 2020 issue of the Post, that included a breakdown of City titles Palisades has won in each sport, Moore noticed 1974 was not listed under boys swimming and notified the City office of the error.
“I was a swimmer on the 1974 Palisades team,” Moore wrote in an email. “We tied Chatsworth for the varsity LA City title but you only have Chatsworth listed on your ‘Champions’ page. It would be wonderful if you can change that sometime in the future.”
Dornan also found an online version of a May 1986 story in the LA Times in which Anderson said “the closest the Palisades boys had come to a championship, besides finishing second about 10 times, was in 1974 when the Dolphins tied Chatsworth for the title.”
While 1986 marked the year that Anderson and Rick Goeden, then aquatics director at the Palisades-MalibuYMCA, coached the Dolphin boys to their first outright City championship, their first title came 12 years earlier under Anderson and assistant John Apgar.
Moore was a senior on that ‘74 squad and took fourth in the 200 individual medley and sixth in the 100 breaststroke while his younger brother Eric was fifth in the 100 backstroke at the finals meet, which came down to the last event, the 400 freestyle relay. The reigning champion Chancellors edged Palisades’ Fred Kitchener, Mark Hutson, Eric Moore and Les Wulk Barkley to earn the four points needed for the tie.
Wulk Barkley, a sophomore, broke his own City record in the 500 freestyle in 4:46.34 and also won the 200 individual medley, while Kitchener was third in the 100 butterfly for the Dolphins.
“I find it fascinating that Dave Anderson coached [current Pali High Coach] Maggie Nance and John Apgar coached [Westside Aquatics Director and Pali Highboys water polo coach] Adam Blakis at the Santa Monica Swim Club,” Moore recalled. “John was my age group coach at Palisades Y before going to SMC.”
Since its co-championship in 1974, Palisades has won 18 more boys swim titles, upping its City-best total to 19, including the last seven in a row. The 1974 final was also the first at East LA College. The meet was previously held at Beverly Hills High and Belmont Plaza Pool in Long Beach.
“We had a really talented group of guys in ’74,” recalled Anderson, who lives in Woodland Hills. “We also won the water polo title that same year and the five years after that. John [Apgar] and I worked together well.”
Anderson arrived at Palisades in 1969 and began as swim coach in the 1972-73 season. He finally quit coaching in 1993 but remained at the school until 1995.
Many team members enjoyed success in college and beyond. Dennis Moore was an All-American at Santa Monica College and Chico State University (where he met his wife Vicki Carter Moore, also a swimmer) before becoming a public school teacher. He was the varsity swim coach at Poway High in San Diego County from 1985-93 and was named State Coach of the Year in 1992. He is now retired living in Boise, Idaho.
Eric Moore, a junior in 1974, was also an All-American at Santa Monica College and Chico State. He also became an LA County Lifeguard and Engineer at FedEx.
Freestyler Eric Shargo (also Class of ‘74), was an All-American at both Santa Monica College and Cal State Northridge. He too served as an LA County Lifeguard and became a science professor at Moorpark College.
Senior co-ed diver Kim Smith Hall placed fourth at City finals and competed in diving at Indiana University. Her father was college football coach Homer Smith, who served as an assistant at UCLA.
Mike Newman, a junior who swam the 50 and 100 freestyle and on the 200 medley relay team, was an All-American at Santa Monica College, then at UC Santa Barbara where he achieved a world ranking in the 50 freestyle. He was an LA County Lifeguard for 20 years and a firefighter. He won the Lifeguarding National Ironman Championship in 1996 and was the only official lifeguard on the 1990s hit TV series “Baywatch,” playing the role of “Newmie.” He still lives in the Palisades.
In that 1974 finals meet Newman tied for first in the 50 freestyle with with friend, fellow lifeguard and fireman Bill Dedrick , who swam for Monroe High.
Wulk Barkley swam at USC, where he was also a captain and All-American in water polo. He resides in Huntington Beach and his son is former USC quarterback Matt Barkley, who now plays for the Buffalo Bills in the NFL.
Kitchener, a sophomore in 1974, became an All-American at UC Irvine. He is now a business consultant in Boise, where Apgar also lives and still coaches.
“When I was 14 1/2 I was a pudgy youth lacking confidence with no athletic talent or future direction,” Kitchener said. “John Apgar and swimming changed my life and I owe him so much.”
Another sophomore on that ‘74 championship team was Franz Szymanski, who went on to swim for Arizona State. He achieved high school All-American status in the 100 backstroke and held the City record. In 1975, Szymanski, Wulk Barkley, Kitchener, and Newman set a City record in the 200 medley relay that lasted 30 years, but Chatsworth claimed its third straight team title.
Szymanki competed in the Olympic Trials in 1976 and scored in the USA Nationals in Philadelphia, placing 15th in the 200 backstroke.
“Until 1974 Pali had never won City as San Fernando Valley teams dominated but that year we had a strong base of seniors: myself, Mark Hutson, Eric Shargo and diver Kim Smith Hall, a girl on the boys team,” Dennis Moore recounted. “We also had juniors Mike Newman and my brother Eric, but what really put us into contention were our three super sophomores, Les Wulk Barkley, Franz Szymanski and Fred Kitchener. We all swam together on the Palisades Y team for many years under John Apgar. He brought the best out of us because we had intense and competitive practices five days a week both morning and afternoon and Saturday mornings. I cherish the relationships that were made with my teammates and that still exist today.”
Moore and his wife have two adult children and two grandchildren and will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary this summer.
“I was fortunate to have incredible mentors as coaches,” Moore added. “That’s why I chose a teaching and coaching career. I was a high school and middle school teacher in social studies along with being a water polo, swimming and volleyball coach for 37 years. I can’t express how much I enjoyed working with students and athletes. Ironically, Coach Apgar, Fred Kitchener and another teammate Liz Paul Smay live in Boise too. We get together for lunch every once in a while.”
Moore’s swim teams at Poway won five San Diego Section crowns in an era when there was only one division and 60 schools.
With his alma mater’s first City swim title at last in the books, Moore longs to relive the memories with those who made them.
“We are hoping to gather for a 50-year reunion in 2024,” he said.
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