North Texas

Eastern Hills High School's Only Swimmer Has Sights Set on the Olympics

She plans to begin training to try out to join an Olympic team in 2019 during her winter break.

A North Texas high school junior is carrying the swim team at Fort Worth ISD’s Eastern Hills High School. The school hasn't had a swim team for more than a decade, until she decided she was going to bring it back.

Now, student Layla Harris is preparing to break records and even train for the Olympics. She is on track to becoming one of the best high school swimmers in the state -- on a team of one.

Harris persisted to bring the swim team back.

"I made a decision that I could start a swim team at Eastern Hills and try and make a difference,” Layla said. “I wanted to bring it back, because I enjoy swimming. I think everyone will enjoy it."

Layla is in the middle of her swim season. She’s preparing for district competition now, and the goal is to make it to regionals, then to state, her first year swimming competitively.

“It’s very weird being the only one. People are like, oh my God, you’re so awesome. I’m like, come join, you’ll do awesome too,” Layla said.

"She doesn't give up, whenever she wants to accomplish something, she is going to set her mind to it and she is going to do what she can to get it accomplished,” said Layla's father, Kenneth Harris.

“The sky is the limit with her,” said Paschal High School Head Aquatics Coach Jason Lovell.

Thanks to Lovell, Layla is able to practice with some the best swimmers in the region. Layla says she will also begin training to try out to join an Olympic team in 2019 during her winter break.

“Layla is very driven, and she is very athletic; her athleticism sets her apart,” Lovell said. “She’s faster than all my girls on my team, so she is kind of a role model in that aspect. Some of the girls are like, no I don’t want her in my lane, she is going to run me over.”

Sometimes, Layla’s even surprised by her own talent.

“I never thought I would be that good, honestly,” Layla said. “My parents said you have the muscle and the body of a swimmer and the long arms and big hands. I’m like, I’m not sure, I’ll see how I do. After my first race, I won first place. I’m like, 28 seconds, that’s pretty good.”

She hopes others will join her next year at Eastern Hills, as she prepared to break her school record for the 50 meter freestyle this season.

“You’re carrying a whole school and people are depending on you. You just don’t want to quit on them," Layla said. "Quitting is just another word for giving up on your dream."

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