Local star recognized on USA Down Syndrome National Swimming Team – C&G Newspapers

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Joey Gallagher and his family are holding a fundraiser collection drive to turn donated items directly into funds for the U.S. Down Syndrome National Swimming Team.
Photo provided by Caryn Gallagher
By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | C&G Newspapers | Published October 4, 2022
Gallagher was a state finals swimmer for Birmingham Groves in the 2021 Michigan High School Athletic Association State Championship at Oakland University.
Photo provided by Caryn Gallagher
OAKLAND COUNTY — Nothing stops Joey Gallagher from doing what he is determined to do.
A state finals swimmer for Birmingham Groves last year, Gallagher is a local star who is ready to shine on the big stage. He’s persistent and passionate, and it goes without saying that his work ethic follows the same path.
On Oct. 15 in Albufeira, Portugal, Gallagher will compete for the USA Down Syndrome National Swimming Team in the 10th Down Syndrome World Swimming Championships.
Gallagher, 18, and 22 other swimmers will represent the Team USA Swimming Team as they compete against 18 other countries Oct. 15-23.
Gallagher, a Bimrinigmham Groves graduate in 2022, helped Groves finish fourth in the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division Two State Championship at Oakland University on March 12.
Gallagher said his fourth-place 50-yard freestyle paralympic performance at states was an all-time high school moment for him.
“I still remember to this day I was at Oakland University to swim for a state meet, and I got a time of 32:01,” Gallagher said.
Caryn Gallagher, Joey’s mom, said the only thing she could think about when he was born was how much joy it would bring to the family.
So much so that it played a key factor in his name.
“His name is Joy, but with an ‘E.’ Also, the biblical name is Joseph plus one, because Joey has the extra chromosome,” Caryn Gallagher said.
Gallagher was an active child, taking part in basketball, track and cross-country while the family lived in Naples.
“I think just the ‘can do it’ attitude,”’ Caryn Gallagher said. “We coined the ‘go Joey go’ attitude from the beginning.”
As Gallagher moved to Michigan before eighth grade, he joined the Berkshire Middle School swim team coached by Blake Lindsay, who is the son of Detroit Red Wings legend Ted Lindsay.
Blake Lindsay, who passed away in 2019, had a significant effect on Gallagher.
“That had an impact on Joe, to lose someone who had a huge impact on his life,” Caryn Gallagher said.
Gallagher continued to swim all through high school while also playing for the Groves Unified basketball team since his sophomore year.
Through all obstacles, Gallagher said, his mom always reiterated to him one lesson.
“She always used to say ‘shine on, and breathe in and breathe out.’ It’s always stuck in my head,” Gallagher said.
Since his state finals showcase, Gallagher has been training at Omni Kinetics over the summer with Graham Polakoff.
“Graham has played a great mentor role to him there,” Caryn Gallagher  said
Polakoff, a certified athletic trainer, founded Omni Kinetics in 2012, and since then has worked with athletes at all levels and sports.
Caryn Gallagher began teaching yoga in Polakoff’s facility six years ago, and this summer Polakoff and Gallagher started training together.
“He comes in and everybody is happy to see him, and he’s happy to see everyone,” Polakoff said.
Gallagher’s training primarily focuses on strength and conditioning with Omni, and for the last month he has worked closely with Drew Edson on the Birmingham-Bloomfield Atlantis Swimming Club.
Edson, the varsity swim coach at U-D Jesuit High School, was familiar with Gallagher during dual meets between U-D and Groves.
“He was always a great kid to be on deck,” Edson said. “He always brought so much energy and smiles.”
The swim club, which was founded in 1988, holds eight practices a week at Birmingham Groves High School, Warren FItzgerald High School and the Cranbrook Swim Club.
Edson said Gallagher’s work ethic is one of his strongest skills.
“After coaching him for a little bit, he’s a really hard worker,” Edson said. “He puts his head down and grinds.”
Training both with Omni and Atlantis and working two jobs — at Roots and Nino Salvaggio — Gallagher is a busy man who still finds time to do the things he loves.
Whether it’s guitar lessons, drum sessions, karaoke routines, or his ambition to be an actor, Gallagher puts his heart into everything he does.
“I really love getting to know more about acting,” Gallagher said. “Acting to me is really important because it makes me feel more confident in myself, and I really think I can be one.”
Gallagher’s favorite television show is “Impractical Jokers,” and his karaoke playlist ranges anywhere from Beyonce to Air Supply.
“My friend Jonah, my friend Graham, and the whole Kinetics team all really support me,” Gallagher said.
After Gallagher returns from Portugal, he plans to continue his look at colleges to further his acting and performing career.
“If the rest of this world could walk around with a smile and laugh like he does, we’d be a lot better off,” Polakoff said.
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