Moving across the country hasn't been easy for Gahanna Lincoln High School sophomore Seamus Ginnane, but he's started to find his comfort zone.

Moving across the country hasn't been easy for Gahanna Lincoln High School sophomore Seamus Ginnane, but he's started to find his comfort zone.

After previously living in San Diego, Ginnane and his family moved to Gahanna last summer because of the work his father, Brian Ginnane, does as a captain in the U.S. Navy.

Although Seamus struggled to make friends at first, becoming a member of the school's swimming and diving program has helped with the transition.

It's been the kind of experience Ginnane's family was hoping for.

"It's been hard for (Seamus)," Brian said, because his son has Down syndrome.

"Making transitions during the high school years is hard enough, but we went from a small school to a huge school and one of the things that's helped is the swimming team," Brian said. "Seamus is such a loving individual. He likes to be a part of the group and he's a competitor just like any teenager."

Seamus, who first learned to swim several years ago, followed in the footsteps of one of his three older sisters when he competed in water polo as an eighth-grader.

He then participated in swimming at his former school last winter and was excited to join the Lions this season.

While he cites making friends and improving muscle tone as reasons he enjoys being on the team, he also likes "to win."

"The swim team has been really nice to me," he said.

What Seamus has brought to the Lions also hasn't gone unnoticed by the 12-member boys team. He has competed in meets in nearly every event, although he says the freestyle events are his favorites.

During meets, Seamus has been among the biggest cheerleaders for teammates when he's not participating.

"I feel like the team really enjoys having him here," sophomore Keenan Lucas said. "Seamus is always here to work hard, and during meets he's like, 'Come on. Let's go. Swim faster.' When we had a Christmas party, me, Seamus (and others on the team) were all hanging out and it was pretty fun. It's been pretty good having him because he's like a little brother. I'm always helping him stay on track. He thinks about others and that's when he wants the best for the team."

One swimmer who got to know Seamus shortly after he joined the program is senior Lauren Payne of the girls team.

At times, she has helped Seamus stay focused on continuing to race, particularly in longer events.

"We swim in the same lane together, and when he stops, I stop and see if he's OK," said Payne, who plans to major in special education in college. "He's so much fun. He always likes to talk to people and isn't afraid to be with people on the team."

Coach Jeff Riegler has made sure he and the members of the program treat Seamus just like everyone else.

Riegler is in his second season at Gahanna. During his final season as Westerville South's coach in 2013-14, he coached Anna Dunlope, who also has Down syndrome.

"(Seamus is) interesting, that's for sure," Riegler said. "He does a really good job, but normally we have to keep him focused. His dad said you can be hard on him to keep him on the straight and narrow. Even with him being special needs, I don't treat him any differently. I coached a girl (with Down syndrome) when I was at (Westerville) South, but they're completely different just like all kids are different.

"It's been all about the team atmosphere. Everybody cheers for him during the races. He's always included in everything and is a full member of the team."

Seamus, according to his dad, enjoys math and is participating in a work-study program at Huntington Bank.

"Someday he aspires to own his own restaurant," Brian said. "He loves going to Buffalo Wild Wings and (likes) pizza and chicken wings."

Brian has enjoyed watching Seamus and the other members of the program interact. He believes that socialization will help his son move toward his long-term dreams.

"We wanted him to be safe in the water and we needed to find a sport," Brian said. "It's incredibly heart-warming especially when you see his teammates accept him as one of the guys. When we see him interact on the pool deck and cheer him on, it makes me extremely proud of the team."