A blind Paralympics swimmer hopes to represent the United States in the upcoming Paralympics quest with her guide dog. The quest is scheduled to take place in Tokyo in 2021.
Radar, a guide dog trained by a pro hockey team has partnered with Anastasia Pagonis, a blind Paralympics swimmer. Pagonis had cheered for the New York Islanders before the professional hockey team thought of raising a guide dog for her.
Things changed when she clocked 14, as at the time a Labrador retriever, Radar, became the first “Puppy with a Purpose” for the Isles. Unfortunately, Pagonis lost her vision within two months.
Being a teenage girl is hard, so having that on top of it was just such a struggle for me. It took me about eight months to kind of regroup myself, and then I got it in my head, ‘OK, I’m blind. Now, what am I going to do with my life?Pagonis
Pagonis figured out the answer, which was competitive swimming. Before Pagonis lost her sight she had just taken up the sport about six months ago.
The mid-distance freestyler derived joy in competitive swimming after struggling with depression and anxiety from losing her eyesight
Pagonis, who is now 16, has received two gold medals at the World Para Swimming World Series in Australia before the Pandemic shut things down.
Not long after, she received a call from the nonprofit Guide Dog Foundation about collaborating with Radar. Due to the pandemic, Pagonis and Radar had to train together for some hours every morning at her home for about 10 days. The duo officially teamed up on August 19.
Radar and Pagonis recently traveled to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympics Training Center in Colorado, where other top athletes are training for the 2021 Paralympics in Tokyo.
NBC Universal revealed that the 2021 Paralympics will be broadcast by its parent company. Within a week, Radar was able to pick up familiar routes while guiding Pagonis around the campus.
Pretty much if I’m coming from my dorm room, I’ll say, Forward. Find the elevator,’ and he’ll go down a bunch of hallways and make a few turns and he’ll find the elevator,” she said.
If I didn’t have Radar, I would have to glide against the wall and bump into a bunch of things and it would honestly be pretty impossible for me to find the elevator without asking for help because I have no eyes. So he’s pretty much like my eyes.Pagonis