Recap written by intern: Madison Elliott
"He's an Olympic trial qualifier, one of the best swimmers for his age group in the nation, and only 16-years-old! Let's welcome Reece Whitley to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia!" Whitley, who is on the junior national team, has been making a splash within the last couple of years. He broke the record for the 200 yard breaststroke in his age group when he was only 13 years old! When he was 14 years old, his breaststroke time qualified him for the U.S. Olympic Trials. He is young, but he is gaining momentum fast.
"I try not to think about my age too much," Whitley said, talking about his early success. The 6-foot-8, 235 pound swimmer at Penn Charter visited the Children's Hospital on Tuesday, March 29th to talk with kids. They learned all about how he got started, his routine, how he eats, and all the serious swimming it takes to be one of the best. Whitley described how he first got into swimming, and it's not the story you would expect. When he was only a small child, he failed a deep water test. But, that only pushed him from a young age to get back into the pool. When he was 7-years-old, he said he just "plopped in the pool one day," raced a 200-yard breaststroke, and happened to swim a good time. And then he thought, "Ok, I can do this!" The rest is history, and now Whitley is one of the top recruits in the country for the class of 2018. Racing takes a lot of training and Reece described his intense routine. He spends two and half hours in the pool at a time and trains almost every day of the week, all while eating about 5,500 calories a day!
All of this hard work has really paid off. In San Antonio at Junior Nationals, he was swimming the 200-yard breaststroke in the B final. The A final had Olympian Michael Phelps. After both races were over, Bob Bowman, Phelps's coach, came over to Whitley to tell him he had swam the same exact time as Phelps. Crazy! "That is something I will keep with me for the rest of my life," Whitely said. And when asked how it felt to be called the next Michael Phelps, he casually replied, "There is never going to be another Michael Phelps. But I would like to be the first Reese Whitley."
While Whitley is quite the athlete, he also has a less serious side outside of the pool that the kids at CHOP got to learn about. Like any other sixteen year old, he loves Netflix, hanging out with friends, and taking lots of naps! Though a big teenager with big ambitions, he also has an equally big heart and the kids at CHOP loved meeting the one and only, Reece Whitely.