When she hit the pool wall in the 2021 Para Swimming World Series in Lewisville, Texas in April, Anastasia Pagonis had not only won both the 100 and 400 freestyle S11 class races, she had also broken the American records in both. In a Sports Illustrated, Faces in the Crowd YouTube video, Pagonis, who is from Long Island, New York, talks about her progressive vision loss, which began at age 11; temporarily losing the ability to compete on a team in her sport; finding a coach who was willing to teach himself how to swim as a blind person and regaining her competitive edge again through Paralympics. She’s also an avid Tik-Tokker, who posts positive messages about working through blindness. It’s all here.
Like Pagonis, Cailin Currie is a Paralympic swimmer, who also competes on the college level for the D-1 team at Merrimack College. Currie, who competed in the 15th Summer Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016, was born blind and didn’t like swimming at all when she first began. Currie didn’t medal in Rio, but she “posted the [Merrimack] team’s best time in the 1,650-yard freestyle at the Northeast Conference Championships in 2020″. Read more on Goodsport.
In her article “Swimming Without the Black Line: How Blind Athletes Adapt,” McClain Hermes, an intern at Swimming World Magazine, describes her own journey from vision loss onset through winning the Paralympic Swimming medal. She explains the S11, S12 and S13 classifications for visually impaired swimmers, her own swimming strategies and those of other visually impaired and deaf blind swimmers here .