Coming to an Olympic Games near you! Reece Whitley is making strides in the pool and quickly becoming a star athlete. The 15-year-old was recently deemed SportsKid Of The Year by Sports Illustrated Kids, and holds five national records in his league.
Reece began his athletic career as a basketball player in Philadelphia. His parents installed a basketball hoop in the driveway of the family home as a way of encouraging their son to pursue his passion. “We thought he wasn’t going to let the cement dry around the base of it,” says Reece’s mom. It was evident that the then-10-year-old had much determination. As Whitley’s love for basketball began to die out, the teen turned to another sport to practice and master: enter swimming.
Reece began to develop his new past time at William Penn Charter School. To date, he holds five individual national age-group records and is recognized as one of the top swimmers in the country. “I’ve had so much fun watching him grow, continue to love the sport, and advocate for the sport,” says Penn coach Crystal Keelan. “As he’s maturing, he’s wanting to spread the word about swimming and making connections with people of all ages.”
Although his accomplishments are great, and his fame is growing by the day, Reece takes everything as a grain of salt. “I look at myself as somebody who hasn’t really done much for the sport yet,” says the teen. “Making an impact on a young swimmer at a meet is probably more important than the times that you swim,” he adds. “All these records are meant to be broken, but if you change a kid’s life or if you put a smile on a kid’s face because you took a picture with them, that never dies.”