Special Feature

Photo of paralympic legend Trischa Zorn in a swimming competition.

With having won 55 medals (41 gold, 9 silver and 5 bronze) and broken 8 world records at the Paralympics in swimming, Trischa Zorn raised the bar for Paralympic athletes.

Trischa Zorn was born on June 1, 1964 with aniridia. This is a congenital eye condition caused by a dysfunction in the PAX6 gene, the gene responsible for eye development. This condition causes the eye to stop developing prematurely. The only treatment for aniridia is a surgery involving a synthetic iris replacement, which reduces the amount of light entering the eyes. Before Zorn received surgery, she could only see objects that were a few feet in front of her. After the surgery, her vision improved from 20/1100 to 20/850. The surgery’s main purpose was to help cut down glare from light coming into her eyes. Luckily, this surgery does not change her classification for the Paralympics.

Zorn was an athlete of swimming in every Paralympic Games from 1980 in Arnhem, Netherlands to 2004 in Athens, Greece. In her first games in 1980, she won seven gold medals and collected several more throughout the years. At the 1992 games in Barcelona, she topped the individual medal table with ten gold medals and two silver. She won more medals than any other athlete at the 1996 games in Atlanta with two gold, three silver and three bronze. Throughout the years, she has held eight world records in the 50 m backstroke, 100 m backstroke, 200 m backstroke, 200 m individual medley, 400 m individual medley, 200 m breaststroke, 4×50 m medley relay and 4×50 m free relay.

Being the most decorated athlete in the history of the Paralympics, Zorn was inducted into the Paralympic Hall of Fame in 2012. Today, Zorn is giving back to the sport of swimming through coaching and mentoring other swimmers, from beginners to masters.

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