Reece Whitley of Lafayette Hill on Monday became the second local athlete in a row to be named SportsKid of the Year by Time Inc.'s Sports Illustrated Kids.

Mo'ne Davis, a Little League star from Philadelphia, was the magazine's honoree last year.

Whitley, 15, is a sophomore A student at William Penn Charter School. A 6-foot-8, 235-pound swimmer who trains at the Penn Charter Aquatic Club, he is expected to compete at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials in June.

He was chosen by the publication from among thousands of young athletes across the country, the managing editor said.

"Of course, he's a talented and committed athlete with a great attitude," Mark Bechtel of Sports Illustrated Kids said in a statement. "But he's also kind and generous, and he genuinely cares about helping others and bettering the world around him."

Whitley is the subject of the magazine's cover story, set to be available in print on Tuesday and online at

The Inquirer's Frank Fitzpatrick wrote about Whitley in January. That story can be read at

"Just wanting to see the best of myself is what gets me into that water every day," Whitley told Fitzpatrick.

News of Whitley's honor was made public Monday morning on ABC's Good Morning America. Afterward, among many other Twitter users, the office of Michelle Obama (@FLOTUS) tweeted: "Congrats @_reecewhitley on becoming @SIKids #SportsKid of the Year. We are so proud of you!"

Whitley, who also has played baseball and basketball, won the 200-meter breaststroke at the 2015 Speedo Junior National Championships in San Antonio, Texas, and came in second in the 100 breaststroke at the 2015 FINA World Junior Championships in Singapore.

He also owns national age-group records for 13- to 14-year-old breaststrokers at 100 and 200 yards and 100 and 200 meters. At 12, he became the youngest to break a minute for 100 yards.

"Reece's potential is endless," Crystal Keelan, coach at the Penn Charter Aquatic Club, told The Inquirer in January.

Whitley, who could not be reached for comment, told Fitzpatrick in January that he became serious about being a swimming role model when he was about 8, after his mother, Kim Smith-Whitley, arranged a meeting with Cullen Jones, an African American swimmer who went on to win three medals at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

In a statement provided by the magazine, Whitley said, "Making an impact on a young swimmer at a meet is probably more important than the times that you swim.

"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."

Olympic champion Michael Phelps said Whitley is "incredible."

"The guy is very talented," Phelps said in a statement. "He's super relaxed, super outgoing, just kind of go-with-the-flow."

Andrew Seliskar, another of the country's best young swimmers, told The Inquirer in January, "You can already tell [Whitley] is going to be the next big thing in breaststroke."

Whitley is to be honored for the SportsKid award at an event in New York on Dec. 15.

The annual SportsKid award was introduced in 2007, the magazine said, "to recognize young athletes who excel on the field, in the classroom, and in service to their communities."

To view an Inquirer video interview with Whitley, go to