Why Reece Whitley Has Serious Swim Star Potential: Gold Medal Minute Presented by SwimOutlet.com

Gold Medal Minute presented by SwimOutlet.comReece Whitley is the future of breaststroke for USA Swimming. That’s already agreed upon by 90% of our readers. Sure, he’s got Michael Andrew there, one year ahead, one National Age Group Record ahead of him (in the 100 meter breaststroke), but Whitley’s all about this one stroke…for now.

The towering Penn Charter Aquatic Club phenom – 6 feet, 8 inches tall – owned the media room at his first Arena Pro Swim Series in Charlotte.  For an athlete so young, he handled himself well among the stars, and it’s clear the stars liked him.

Arkady Vyatchanin, Reece Whitley, Nathan Adrian, 2015 Arena Pro Swim Series Charlotte (Photo Courtesy of Rafael Domeyko)

Arkady Vyatchanin, Reece Whitley, Nathan Adrian (Photo Courtesy of Rafael Domeyko)

Whitley’s doing the work in the water. Dropping from 1:03 to 1:01.8 in the 100 meter breaststroke is astounding, and he essentially said he’s gunning for a 1:00 in August. His 2:12.9 National Age Group Record in the 200 meter breaststroke bodes well for the future. Anyone who can train in a 6-lane, 25 yard pool with age groupers, then face-off with pros in a 50 meter pool and final in his first truly elite meet, merits serious attention….from NBC.

Whitley should final at the US Olympic Trials in Omaha.  He’s on track.  SwimSwam already took the poll, asking readers if they thought he could make the 2016 Olympic Team.  21% said yes.  The percentage is low, but 1 in 5 swim fans feel he has a real shot. I think it’s legimate considering Whitley’s rate of improvement.  Finaling at US Trials would be enough, a huge success. Moreover, participating at US Trials is enough given the valuable experience he’ll gain. Whitley, provided he remains healthy and passionate for the sport, is a cornerstone player on the 2020 and 2024 Olympic squad, but…just for fun…

What do you think it will take to make the 2016 US Olympic Team in 100m and 200m breaststroke, and what do you think Whitley will clock in those events?  


This is a Gold Medal Media production presented by SwimOutlet.com. Host Gold Medal Mel Stewart is a 3-time Olympic medalist and the co-founder of SwimSwam.com, a Swimming News website.

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7 years ago

I really hope he doesn’t just plateau before ‘total dominance’, and continues the type of trajectory we’re all expecting of a 15 year old…

I just worry given he’s clearly ahead of other kids his age developmentally, and how much more he will really grow. Certainly looks very different to a 15 year old Phelps or Peaty, and if he was a 20 year old 6ft 8 athlete (which would still be impressive), a 1.01.8 wouldn’t even register on our radars…

7 years ago

Wow, he is WAY more poised and focused than most 15 year olds! He sounds almost like a coach rather than just a swimmer. Now that I know this mental aspect strength, along with his apparent necessary technique adjustments with each growth spurt, I predict total dominance for him, even if, and maybe especially if, he continues to grow. If so, his level of freaky dominance could become Phelpsian/Boltian/Meagheresque, etc. I didn’t think he had a shot for Rio, but now I do.

7 years ago

How many of the 21% who think he can make the Olympic team have actually seen him swim? Seems like a completely irrelevant metric to show his potential in the sport

7 years ago

To frame a comparison of another elite youngster’s progression in a year leading up to OTs:

Phelps’s 13-14 NAG record in the 2fly: 1:59.02. This, I believe, was set sometime in the first half of 2000 prior to his 15th birthday.
A few months later he was 1:57.4 to make the team and then 1:56.5 for 5th in the Oly final.

But what about the prior summer? What did Phelps go in the 2Fly as a young’un in quadrennial year n-1?

According to the 1999 top-16 published in February 2000 (in the old-school SW format where I used to count Chas Mortons), Phelps’ 2Fly was…



One calendar year, seven seconds to make the team, eight by Closing… Read more »

7 years ago

it takes a lot of strength/power and quickness/tempo to get the coveted “under 1:00” in the 100 breast. Miller has a better shot at to be the top in the 100. Cordes has a better shot to be top in the 100. Some of the older US breaststrokers do too. Even if Whitley can crank out a 59.9.. it wont be enough. (It will take a 59 low at least)
Reece has amazing form and amazing pace. He has a shot in the 200. But he will be a wildcard.

7 years ago

Anyone know how Peaty’s times were looking at that age?

bobo gigi
Reply to  Markster
7 years ago

1.05.61 and 2.24.94 at 15
British youth championships in August 2010

Joel Lin
7 years ago

Next year should be filled with urgency for the breaststroke guys not named Reece Whitley. There will be a day when nobody can beat him and he will have an Aaron Piersol type run over the event. Every gold to be had gone for 6-7 years.

Reply to  Joel Lin
7 years ago

Bold prediction.
No doubt he is great, but there is a lot of variables in that time frame equation.We never know when a Japanese guy with the same talent of a Kitajima can rise from nowhere and instead of being five-nine, be a six-three or four but with the same talent of Kitajima.
And we still don’t know how far Peaty will go.

Arthur S
Reply to  Joel Lin
7 years ago

I think you could be right. He could be like Sun Yang at the 1500 free.

7 years ago

I sure wish his coaches could work it out so that he can train LC as well as SCY throughout the upcoming season in preparation for OT. It would seem his best chance of making the Olympic Team in ’16 is in the 200, and that is a LOT different in the big pool!

About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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