Reece Whitley was born on January 3, 2000. A native of Philadelphia, PA., Reece was an avid basketball and baseball player before settling in to become a full time swimmer. Reece swims for the Penn Charter Aquatic Club under coach Crystal Keelan. Both parents are doctors, his mother a Pediatrician, and his father, an ear, nose, and throat surgeon. As an up and coming swimmer who also happens to be African-American, the 6-foot-8, 235 pound young man is turning heads faster than the drops in his best times. His ascension to the top has been almost meteoric.
High School Swimming
Its hard to call his record breaking performances “early success” as he is only 17 years old. But his times have been faster than many previous Olympians at the same age. Brendan Hansen stated that Reece’s times are 4-5 seconds faster than his were at the same age. In June, 2014, Reece broke the 13-14 National Age Group (NAG) record in the 200 breaststroke, and he was only 13. In short course yard events, Reece broke the 11-12 year old NAG Records in the 100 and 200 breaststroke and the 200 breaststroke for 13-14 year olds. As a 14 year old, Reece’s breaststroke time qualified him to swim at the US Olympic Trials.
Reece recently won the 100 yard breaststroke and 200 IM at the prestigious Eastern Interscholastically Swimming Championships, and placed 2nd in the 50 free. Reece continues to climb the charts, and was ranked as Swimswam’s #1 recruit for the HS graduating class of 2018. Reece committed to Cal in the fall of 2017, and started his collegiate campaign in the fall of 2018.
Reece won the 200 breaststroke at the 2015 Speedo Junior National Championships Long Course with a time of 2:12.17. His 200 yard breaststroke time of 1:53.66 ranked him 8th nationally.
2017 World Junior Championships
Being a natural leader as well as having experience with the national junior team, Reece was voted 1 of 5 captains for the 2017 world junior championships. At the championships, Reece raced to 2 2nd place finishes in the 100m (1:00.08) and 200m (2:10.82) breast, going lifetime bests in both. He also helped the mixed 4×100 medley relay to a silver medal as well, splitting 59.42 on the breast leg.
University of California
At the 2019 NCAA Championships, Whitley was a 2-event scorer for the Bears, contributing as a freshman to the team’s first team title in 5 years. In the 100 breast, Whitley touched in 4th at 51.11 in a new best time. In the 200 breast, Whitley touched in 5th at 1:50.84 after going 1:50.62 at the PAC-12 championships earlier that month. Whitley also swam on Cal’s 2nd place 200 medley (23.68) and 400 medley (51.15) relays.