Montco Teen Reece Whitley Wins ‘SportsKid of the Year’ Award

The award is just the latest accolade for the Penn Charter sophomore swimmer, who has already qualified for the 2016 Olympic trials.

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We are still 249 days away from the next Summer Olympics. But we already know which local athlete Philadelphians will be rooting to make it to Rio next August: Penn Charter swimmer Reece Whitley.

Whitley is just 15, and a sophomore at the school. He’s also 6-foot-8, has won a junior national championship and holds five individual national age-group records in the pool. He’s qualified for the Olympic trials in June. For this and for his “talent, humility, and willingness to mentor younger athletes in his sport,” Whitley was named the Sports Illustrated for Kids SportsKid of the Year today.

Last December, Michael Bradley wrote about Whitley for Philadelphia magazine. “I think his potential is unlimited,” Kathryn Scheuer, director of aquatics at Upper Dublin Aquatic Club, said at the time. “The best thing he has going for him is his joy for the sport. That’s going to feed his desire to get better and to work to achieve his goals.”

In the SI for Kids piece on Whitley, he even gets praise from the most-decorated swimmer of all time, Michael Phelps.

“Getting to know Reece a little bit, he’s incredible. The guy is very talented, he’s super relaxed, super outgoing,” Phelps, an 18-time Olympic gold medalist, said. “He’s seeing results, he’s having fun, he’s enjoying himself. He’s a stud.”

He even got praise from the First Lady.

SI notes Whitley’s current best time in the 100-meter breaststroke, 2:11.30, is about two seconds slower than the slowest qualifying time for the 2012 Olympics. But if he doesn’t make it this year, it’s no matter: He’s just 15, and could be rounding into his prime by Tokyo 2020.

The Philadelphia region is on a bit of a SportsKids of the Year roll: Mo’ne Davis received the honor from Sports Illustrated for Kids in 2014.

Follow @dhm on Twitter.