Families in need can call for George to the Rescue. That's the name of the syndicated NBC show in which host George Oliphant and his team renovate homes for deserving families. And for 15-year-old blind swimmer Anastasia Pagonis, it's meant an Endless Pools® Performance model in her garage!
"When I'm in the water, I feel free. That's the only place," says, Tas, as she's called. "I don't have my cane; I don’t have anything. I'm just swimming through the water without anything, and I'm completely free."
Tas Adjusts Her Olympic Dreams
When Tas started to swim at age 11, she was fully sighted. At 12, symptoms of the rare Stargardt's disease first manifested, and her vision began to progressively decline.
By November 2018, she was experiencing depressive symptoms that worried her parents. Her dad began to get more involved, exercising with her to get her moving and out of the house. As her mood lifted, "It was like she became a superhero," her mom reports.
As a blind swimmer, Tas earned two gold medals at the 2017 U.S. Paralympics Can-Am Open. She went on to win silver and bronze medals at the 2018 Para Swimming World Series in Italy. This year, the U.S. Paralympic Committee selected her as one of just 48 swimmers on the 2019 U.S. National Team.
The Garage Pool
According to George, the renovation work in Tas' home was designed to "give her the independence and comfort she deserves" and "make life a little bit easier for her in her home." That included bringing some of her swim training home to save her (and whoever drives her) a two-hour commute plus wait times.
With Endless Pools' modular design, the Performance model could easily be installed in the family's existing garage. The Performance current is larger, smoother, and at its top speed, faster than our signature current. Tas can train at a pace of up to 1:05/100 yards on her own and without leaving home!
In-place swimming also affords unprecedented coaching opportunities. A swimming coach can get an up-close look at every aspect of the swimmer's stroke. Corrections can be made faster and more precisely than in a traditional pool.
As you'll see in the video's reveal, Tas was overjoyed with her new home training pool. It reinforced the mantra that she learned when rebounding from her vision loss: "Never stop dreaming."
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I still wonder how this is MY house!! @george2rescue has made my entire house a safe, accessible and beautiful place you can tell how much love all the workers put into it! It’s so surreal thinking they came and did my house just for me and knowing that their are amazing people out there. My bathroom is now safe for me to take baths and not get hurt getting in and out @fdbath and the entire thing is tactile so I’m able to feel everything @stonebridgemosaics my room is such a warm cozy place (I haven’t slept in my room alone for over a year) and now I never want to leave it! I love being able to feel every little thing in it! My garage is my "mini aquatic center" water is where I feel free and I have nothing holding me back and this @endlesspools gives me more freedom I’ve ever had in water. My room has special lighting around it that isn’t bright or glaring and all of the windows in the house are tinted so my eyes don’t hurt and I can sit and do things with my family without being in pain @nse_windows_llc . Everything works by Alexa so I’m able to turn the heat on or my shower or the lights @sights.n.sounds They put so much hard work, thought and love into every little thing they did. You all are always part of my family ???? - - @marlainateich @agd_construction for all the designing and construction. @vianahotelandspa for having us ???? - - - - Accessibility. Photo description: A close up picture of Anastasia smiling. Picture 2 is Anastasia giving George a hug. Picture 3 is a picture of Anastasias garage with her endless pool. Picture 4 is a picture of Anastasia cozy fancy room. Picture 5 is Anastasias bathroom.
A Custom Renovation for Tas
George and his team of contractors and designers assembled the garage pool as part of a larger home renovation. In response to Tas' light sensitivity, they built in indirect lighting and added high-tech window treatments. Since she can't see color, they redid her bedroom with a range of textures so she can enjoy it tactilely.
You can see the complete home renovation, along with added footage of Tas and George swimming against the Endless Pools current, by watching the full episode.
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I can’t believe that one year ago today my life was flipped upside down. Today was definitely one of those I need extra love, a few boxes of tissues and a couple tubs of cookies and cream ice cream days. But getting back up from those days is the most important part. This past year has been a roller coaster for me. I went through the hardest thing in my life. I was in a stage where I felt completely hopeless and worthless. Then I came out of it and sometimes I have my down days. I’ll never be the person I was. But I’ve excepted that. And I’m not happy or grateful with what happened but I’m at ease with it now. This is me and I’m ready to be the best me I can be!