Reece Whitley Compels Followers to Take Action in Wake of George Floyd Killing

Rising Cal junior Reece Whitley weighed in Tuesday on the calls for change sweeping the nation following the killing of unarmed black man George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin last week.

The killing is the latest in a growing list of black men, arrested for minor crimes, who have died while in police custody.

Whitley writes that he’s had time to think about “what were happen if it were [him] instead of [his] fellow brothers being murdered without hesitation,” and discusses how viewing videos of “Black reality” can be traumatic for those who can imagine themselves in similar situations. Multiple videos of Floyd’s death from security cameras and bystanders went viral on social media throughout the last week.

Whitley also urged his followers to “be an ally” by donating, rather than just posting on social media to show support for the cause, and wrote that “silence in the face of injustice is complicity.”

Whitley is a Philadelphia, PA-native breaststroke specialist who was an age group phenom, breaking numerous national age group records. At Cal, he’s a five-time Pac-12 champion and nine-time NCAA All-American.

His comments on this subject follow those of Olympic swimmers Simone Manuel, Cullen Jones, Lia Neal, Natalie Hinds, Katie Ledecky, Olivia Smoliga, Hali Flickinger and Kelsi Dahlia.

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David Berkoff

Enough is enough. I’ve seen far too many young people—mostly black men die as a direct result of blatant or thematic racism in the last few years—either by the hands of bad cops or racist jerks. The last protest I attended was against apartheid in college in the 1980’s. I was teased by some of my teammates as being a hippie for doing so. But I was right and so was the movement which with cumulative pressure toppled apartheid. The murder of Mr. Floyd (by a cop!) led me to protest again. I was the oldest person and the ONLY 50+ white man at our city’s protest today. The ONLY one. That says a lot. Either my generation doesn’t care… Read more »

Texas Tap Water

Hear! Hear!

Make this sticky, Swim Swam!

Brian M

Maybe you didn’t hear, but there is still this COVID-19 thingy going on. Since you call out middle age “white” men (of which I am one) for not being present I would like to say the following. 1.) I am not attending any protest or large gathering of any sort while we are dealing with this pandemic. When you take into account that a large majority of protestors/rioters, etc are from outside the area where the protest occurs, this is just a recipe for disaster. Funny how COVID-19 and social distancing was such a big thing just one week ago…..Going to church? No, can’t do that you are endangering the public…protest with a couple thousand people in even closer proximity… Read more »


In the time it took you to write that you could have also said I am sorry that I can’t be there but I will do something else. It costs no money to write to your congressmen and congresswomen and voice that you are upset by what is happening. If you feel this strongly against Mr. Berkoff, it feels like you don’t know what it means to be oppressed for something that you have no control over (if at all). There is no need to get defensive.


Older people are more cautious I can tell you that we don’t want to waste our time showing up at a political rally for which we don’t agree with. I’m not talking about justice for George Floyd and the creation of a justice system that is color blind. It’s the original BLM organization that I’m talking about. We don’t know their ideological position on anything right now. My interpretation of them prior to last week is that their core belief is that all white people are racist. If you want to work with them go right ahead but I’m going to wait and have better information before I show up at a rally and give a group like that my… Read more »


“wait and have better information”

or you could actually do something like seek that information out…I think that was sort of the point of Berkoff’s original post. The time to “wait” is over


THIS is why swimming has a race problem


“BLM’s #WhatMatters2020 will focus on issues concerning racial injustice, police brutality, criminal justice reform, Black immigration, economic injustice, LGBTQIA+ and human rights, environmental injustice, access to healthcare, access to quality education, and voting rights and suppression.”

That’s directly from their website and took me 10 seconds to find.

Or… just keep waiting.

If you’re okay with a system that maintains the status quo, enforces the criminalization of black activity, and brutalizes the black community because you personally know people who are employed by that system and it benefits you then just say that. It clarifies which side you’re on.


I have always loved how candid and genuine Reece has been in interviews and how well he’s carried himself on deck, even as an age group swimmer. I remember being a kid at a summer Zones meet in Richmond, Va where he was swimming for the PA region. Reece was just coming on the scene (he was either 9 or 10, not sure which), but he was still much taller than his competition and one of the only black swimmers on deck. I remember standing on the side of the deck cheering for my team, but I couldn’t help watch him as he won that 50 Br. I was amazed. Instantly a fan. Four or so years later in 2014,… Read more »


Personally love seeing this movement be brought to attention everywhere including the swimming community


Agreed, Markster. White silence is white compliance.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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