Joe McCarthy is no newcomer to the Paralympic Games, as Beijing was his fourth appearance in the international competition.
In 1996, at the age of 16, McCarthy was injured after flying off his surfboard in shallow water, crashing into a sandbar headfirst and breaking his neck. He spent a week in the hospital, two months in Sharp Rehabilitation Center and half a year undergoing physical therapy. McCarthy then returned to high school, where in his senior year he joined the varsity swim team. He competed against able-bodied students but never won. A year later, he entered a disabled swim competition and broke an American record, going on to compete in numerous national swim meets.
Along with training, McCarthy is also the head swimming coach for the Coronado Aquatics Club in Coronado, Calif. He is heavily involved in his local community, helping to raise money to build a state of the art aquatics center, which opened in December 2007. The center serves as a sanctuary for people suffering traumatic injuries and debilitating illness.
- 2008: U.S. Paralympic Team member, Swimming - Paralympic Games, Beijing China
- American record holder, S4 classification, 50m freestyle, 50m backstroke, 50m butterfly and 100m freestyle
- 2004: Seventh place, 50m freestyle; Ninth place, 50m backstroke and 100m freestyle - Paralympic Games, Athens, Greece
- 2002: Fourth place, 50m backstroke; fifth place, 50m freestyle and 100m freestyle - IPC World Championships, Mar del Plata, Argentina
- 2000: Fifth place, 50m freestyle - Paralympic Games, Sydney, Australia