Granted, it is a difficult age for any teenager, but coping with a life-changing handicap made matters much harder.
“It took me months to sort of regroup myself,” she advised TODAY,” and I got it in my mind,’Alright, I am blind. ”’
A Long Island native, Pagonis nearly grew up in the water. She had taken up aggressive freestyle swimming only a couple of months before going completely blind. While she excelled in the game in spite of restricted eyesight, an”abusive team” air prompted her to give up the contest.
After months of treatment, the stubborn teen was ready to return at the swim–just swimming was not sufficient for Pagonis. She wished to compete.
She was faced with another issue. “nobody needed to train the blind woman,” she recalled in a meeting using TEAM USA. “I finished up following about eight months locating a remarkable mentor who had been ready to train me actually wear blackout goggles to attempt and determine a way for me to float “
From age 16, Pagonis had been making a reputation as a ferocious competition, carrying two gold awards in the World Para Swimming World Series in Australia.
When Pagonis recognized her adventures and positive outlook may be a blessing to other people, but she donned the mantle of the function model. “I wish to help people the way which I wanted help,” Pagonis informed TEAM USA. “I began doing Instagram and social websites and was soon becoming a lot of (direct messages) and answers saying,’Wow you really let me get through small things,’ or,’I had been getting bullied in school and you helped me get through this,’ or,’You I want to know just how much I was worth. ”’
Back from the water, Pagonis was really in her element. “It is my happy place,” she advised TODAY. “It is the area where I feel as I do not have a handicap and I feel like that is the only area where I feel liberated. When I dip in the water, it is only me at the pool and that I feel such a connection with this.”
While she did not understand it earlier this season, her joyful place was going to have a great deal more joyful thanks to another New York athletes.
The New York Islander’s Puppies With Goal Program (based in combination with the nonprofit Guide Dog Foundation) was going to have its first grad, a cute Labrador retriever called Radar.
As a result of the outbreak, Pagonis and Radar started their first training in her property. On August 19they had been prepared to undertake the world collectively. “He’s given me my liberty back and is my partner in crime”
That liberty has enabled Pagonis to choose her place as a resident athlete in Colorado’s Olympic Paralympic Training Center with a goal of competing at the Tokyo 2021 games. “This is a big and frightening choice for me personally,” Pagonis tweeted. “But sometimes you have to have a leap of faith since in the event that you do not try, you do not understand. Always follow your dreams”