There are many students at Naples High who are prime examples of excellence in sports, academics and other aspects of campus life, but one name that is sure to stand out from the rest is junior Havana Layton.
Layton provides an accurate definition of what being extraordinary truly means, reaching incredible achievements throughout her years and showing great potential for future success.
Since her childhood, Layton has been swimming competitively, being part of both Naples High and T2 Aquatics teams. Alongside swimming, she also does pole vault on the NHS track team and with SWFL Vaulters.
“I have been swimming for 10 years, so it has a special place in my heart,” Layton said. “I just started pole vaulting as a freshman, but I love both sports equally. I can’t choose a favorite!”
Innate talent certainly holds true for Layton, who complements her phenomenal abilities with hard work and dedication. These virtues of discipline have pushed her even higher on the performance scale, allowing her to break records and show unprecedented scores. She continues to work towards new goals, hoping to reach new heights in the future.
“I was the state runner-up in the 100 freestyle this year for swim,” Layton said. “I was not expecting to do so well, especially since I completely switched up my events from distance to sprinting. I’m excited to keep training in a new way to become a sprinter this year, and next year I’m going for the gold!”
Layton’s passion for swimming was also evident when she was a child, a time in which she was already making her mark on national records. Now, her continued training has allowed her to hold six records for swim at NHS.
“Also, another fun fact is that as an eight-year-old I had the fastest time in the country for the 100 backstroke for a period of time,” Layton said.
Her accomplishments in sports continue in track, despite being fairly new to the sport.
“For pole vault, after my first year learning this unique sport, I qualified for state! Although my performance at the state meet wasn’t what I was hoping for, I trained hard all summer and I am super excited for the season,” Layton said.
Layton has ambitious goals but believes that her dedicated coaches will help her overcome any obstacles that may arise.
“I competed in a meet in Key West earlier this month, and I got my new PR of 3 meters, winning my flight! My goal for this season is to get the school record (11 feet 6 inches) and place top three at state,” Layton said. “With the help of my awesome coaches and my new favorite pole brand (Essx), I think this is very doable.”
Role models paving the way to success
Layton has a strong support network of parents and coaches who help her through her journey with sports. They have remained by her side through all of the ups and downs, cheering at the stands, offering meaningful guidance and serving as role models.
“I look up to many people for guidance in my sports. My swim coaches, Coach Dave and my Mom, have transformed me into the best version of myself in swimming and in life. Their advice, in combination with my club coach, Coach Eric, has helped me become the swimmer I am today,” Layton said. “Coach Walsh and Coach Kayden have tremendously improved my vaulting technique. I am greatly appreciative of all the advice they have given me. Without them, I could never be the vaulter I aspire to be.
Besides engaging in sports, Layton is also highly active in academics by taking on a rigorous course load and participating in many extracurricular activities.
“I take great pride in my academic life,” Layton said. “I take five classes in school and two online through FLVS. This year I have 5 AP classes. I’m usually around the top five in the class GPA-wise, and I got a 5 on the AP Human Geography exam. I’m also the Junior Class president and have been involved in the Student Government Association for all of my years at Naples High.”
Balancing sports and school
Finding enough time for practices and schoolwork can be quite the challenge for high school athletes. Layton does have a demanding schedule each day, but her love for sports outweighs any apprehension that may result from it.
“Balancing sports and school can be tough, but because I am passionate about so many things I have to make it work,” Layton said. “Waking up for CrossFit at 4:45 is tough and staying up doing homework until midnight sometimes is not ideal, but I’ve come to terms with it. I love my sports so much, so sacrificing a lot of my free time is a necessity.”
Due to the number of classes taken on FLVS, Layton was able to create her schedule in a flexible way that allows for adequate time to meet all tasks.
“Being able to leave school after fifth period is definitely beneficial for my schedule because I have swim practice from 1-3 and track from 3-5, so after 5 I am able to start my work without any interruptions for the rest of the night, except for on Wednesdays when I have gymnastics at 6:30,” Layton said.
Plans for the future: College recruitments, sports and the Ivy League
As junior year is nearing its end, Layton has been planning her route to college. She wants to play sports at the collegiate level, but she currently cannot decide between swim or track. Due to the differences in the timing of outdoor track and swimming seasons, she is hoping she can compete in both.
Layton has also been in contact with several Ivy League colleges for possible recruitment.
“Currently, I am talking to a few Ivy League colleges for swimming! I have been in contact with Columbia and Dartmouth, as well as Georgetown and East Carolina,” Layton said. “I was actually able to meet the Columbia swim coaches in person while they were on a training trip in Key Largo. I’m hoping to make it up to visit the campus in New York City sometime soon. Depending on how track season goes this year, hopefully I can start talking to track coaches too. The application process certainly gets easier if you are recruited, so that’s a big plus!”
Positivity: The key to success
“The mind achieves what the body believes” is the quote that Layton lives by. She believes it conveys an important message about the importance of having a positive mindset and believing in one’s self.
“This quote has always been one that I think of throughout my athletic career,” Layton said. “The mind is such a powerful part of our body, and just believing in yourself can go a long way. Visualization is also very important, especially in a sport like pole vault where everything happens so fast and technique is key. I’ve heard that sports are 90% mental and 10% physical, and though this may sound bizarre, it is very true!”