Joey Peppersack was born with tibial hemimelia, which led to amputation of his right leg above the knee at four years old. At age nine he began swimming, and by his early teens he was breaking records. Peppersack enrolled at the University of Mary Washington in 2017 and began competing internationally, winning three gold medals at the 2017 Can-Am Open, another three medals at the 2018 World Para Swimming Series, and three more medals at the 2019 World Para Swimming Series. Peppersack also competed at the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima, earning a silver medal in the 100m backstroke. The 2021 Tokyo Games are his first Paralympic appearance.
Away from swimming:
Peppersack attended and graduated from the University of Mary Washington in 2021 with a degree in economics. He trained for the Tokyo Games at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
In their own words:
“At some schools, it’s difficult to allow someone who may not keep up with everyone on your team, but the moment you do, it’s a major training boost to almost every other swimmer on the team. I have friends here on the [University of Mary Washington] team who will say, ‘You know, Joey, I was thinking about slacking today, until I saw you creeping up beating me.’”
“It’s super important to have a very diverse team and somebody who holds other athletes accountable.”
“When I’m in the water, I’m not bound to gravity at all. Swimming is just kind of a freedom. That’s why I stuck with it.”
“The pandemic has definitely made things more difficult than they would have been, but I’m lucky enough to have a coach who had pretty much planned everything out so that our team has every opportunity to at least practice every day of the week.”
- Sport: Swimming
- Limb Difference: Right above knee
- DOB: 3/12/99
- Residence: Hopewell, VA
- College: University of Mary Washington
- Classification: S8/SB7/SM7