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How Paralympic Swimmer Anastasia Pagonis Is Breaking Down Barriers

The world record holder represented the USA at the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, where she won gold and bronze.

Anastasia Pagonis kissing a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics
Image courtesy of Anastasia Pagonis

How has the last year changed you, both as an athlete and as a person?


The last year has helped me to become more flexible and roll with anything, both as an athlete and a person. I normally have a very structured schedule and have everything in place. During games you have little control of anything that’s going on. There are tons of small frustrations and you have to learn to just go with it and make your goals happen even with things being constantly changing in your environment.


What has been the biggest moment of your life so far?


The biggest moment in my life so far has been losing my vision. The doctors originally had told me that my vision wouldn’t get worse than 20/400 which I was handling just fine. When my usable vision deteriorated, I was honestly lost. I thought if I don’t have my vision, what’s the point of living. I would always have to depend on people to do anything at all. It was the most difficult, darkest time in my life. With a strong support system, including family and mental health doctors, I was able to come out of this dark place. With that said, every day is still a challenge. I fight with my anxiety and depression on a daily basis and that’s okay. I have a toolbox and support system in place to help get me through. Every day is different.


Anastasia Pagonis posing outside, with palm trees behind her
Image courtesy of Anastasia Pagonis

What’s one thing you hope never changes?