Huntsville Lakers aim to close season on a high note

Josh Criswell/The ItemThe Huntsville Lakers pose at the Frank D. "Poncho" Roberts Aquatic Center prior to a practice this week. The swim team will close its season Saturday with the Ponderosa Invitational at Cy Fair Natatorium.

The Huntsville Lakers’ season is nearing its end, with the most competitive meet of the year capping things off.

Teams from around the area will head to the Cy Fair Natatorium on Saturday for the Ponderosa Invitational, featuring some of the top performers in the Northwest Aquatic League.

The Lakers will send seven swimmers to the end-of-year event — Luke Durham, Emily Ledezma, Grace Wilder, Reese Esser, Natalia Nieto, Emily Dawson and Peanut Warner — who qualified with their performances throughout the season. The team’s swimmers are laser-focused as they attempt to close the summer out on a high note.

“Instead of focusing on where I place, I want to focus on getting better times than I have been,” Wilder said. “I really want to improve my times, end this on a good note and not be disappointed, knowing that this season was a good season.”

Addison Lyons took a similar mindset into last weekend’s Trinity Invitational at The Woodlands Natatorium, and found success in doing so.

“I felt good because it was my best times,” she said. “I improved in everything. ... It just felt good to have my last meet be my best meet.”

The Lakers experienced significant success at the meet, earning team and individual honors.

“We got second place out of 21 teams, and we only had 23 swimmers,” Huntsville Lakers president Angela Lyons said. “Some of those groups had 51 swimmers, so we did really well. We also had two high-point second-place winners.

“It was a great meet for everybody. They all came together and swam really well.”

Devon Favela and Grace Olivares were the Lakers’ two second-place high-point swimmers, competing in the 12-year-old boys and girls 15-18 divisions, respectively. Olivares took part in seven events, and points to her preparation as one of the driving forces behind her impressive performance.

“Lots of sleep and definitely a lot of water,” said Olivares of the key to her success. “You don't feel like you're getting dehydrated but your body knows it. I improved all my times and definitely got what I was looking for.”

The Huntsville Lakers provide area youth the opportunity to fine-tune their swimming skills and compete in the pool during the summer. For Esser, who is headed to ninth grade, the experience has helped prepare her to compete against high school competition.

“I feel like it has helped a lot with being able to fix even the tiny things that I could be working on,” she said. “Just overall, it helps with everything.”