Reece Whitley, a 15-year-old swimmer who has set five individual national age-group records, is Sports Illustrated Kids‘ SportsKid of the Year, the magazine announced Monday.
The 6-ft.-8-in. athlete started playing basketball at age 7 and could easily dunk a hoop by the time he turned 13. Now a swimmer, the William Penn Charter School sophomore qualified to compete in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb. with his 100- and 200-meter breaststroke times from last year.
“Making an impact on a young swimmer at a meet is probably more important than the times that you swim,” Whitley told the magazine. “All these records are meant to be broken, but if you change a kid’s life or if you put a smile on a kid’s face because you took a picture with them, that never dies.”