Kwok Ignores Pain, Leads Nadadores to Victory


It was at the half-way mark of the grueling 1,500-meter freestyle that Mission Viejo Nadadores' Mark Kwok felt intense pain. Nevertheless, he held on to win this race Sunday in the final day of the Finals International Grand Challenge Swimming Invitational at Heritage Park Aquatic Complex.

Kwok, 16, had just won the 200-meter butterfly. He had not dried off from the previous race when he got on the block to start the 1,500.

"I was really hurting at the 900 (-meter) mark," Kwok said, who also won the 200-meter freestyle Saturday. "I started to think about practice, and how I feel good when I'm working out."

Evidently, the mind trick worked with Kwok, a Laguna Hills junior, finishing in 16 minutes 25.80 seconds, a junior national qualifying mark.

Kwok's time in the 200-meter fly was 2:09.89, three seconds ahead of teammate David Schmidt.

In other men's competition, Woodbridge senior Derya Buyukuncu of the Irvine Novaquatics made the 100-meter freestyle look easy, winning in 51.57.

Kwok's strong performances Sunday, coupled with teammate Philippe Demers' second-place finish in the 1,500, were enough to give Mission Viejo the top spot in the men's overall competition with 206 points. Novaquatics was second with 122 and Rose Bowl was third with 92.

Former Olympian Angie Wester-Krieg of Stanford, capped her third day winning two events, the 100-meter freestyle (59.91) and the 200-meter fly (2:16.60).

El Toro High sophomore Katie Lowes, representing the Novaquatics, finished second in the 100-meter freestyle in 59.23, a junior-national qualifying time and less than a second behind Wester-Krieg.

In women's team scores, the Novaquatics finished third with 90 points behind Stanford (115) and winner Blue Fins Swim Club (148).

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