George A. Pagano’s journey across the Atlantic started in high school and almost did not happen.
It all started in his freshmen geometry class at the Haverford School. Two sophomores asked him if he ever thought of rowing. He told them that he was a baseball player and that he intended to tryout for the baseball team. He was a pretty good baseball player going into high school, having played at higher age groups, so he knew baseball was what he wanted to play. Those two classmates continued to be persistent and kept asking him, and asked him to attend a rowing seminar where he would learn more about the team and the sport. He finally broke and said he would go but that it would all be for not as he knew he was playing baseball.
Well things changed, he got hooked. The coached talked about competing on a national level and having great success at that level. George wanted to be on that stage and compete with the best of the best. He traded practice on the baseball field for afternoons down on the Schuylkill. Over the years George had some success, as he was able to compete at the National Championships all four years and was elected co-captain his senior year.
After graduating high school, George wasn’t sure if he would row in college. He thought he might be busy with his academics as he planned on studying actuarial science, but he couldn’t shake the habit and he joined the club team at the epicenter of rowing, the University of Nebraska (haha). Now many people don’t think of rowing when they hear Nebraska, many wonder where one would row. Well they have a lake that the team practiced on at 4:30 in morning. At Nebraska, George was able to compete at the Club National Championships his junior year, where he finished 10th.
It was at Nebraska, his freshmen year, where the ocean row idea was planted in George’s brain. Two upperclassman (sound familiar) told him to check out a video of 4 guys rowing across the Atlantic. The two friends jokingly said they should do it, but George called their bluff and said he was in. The friends told George they were joking and he sat on this idea for a couple years and watched the original video over and over again. He couldn’t get enough and knew he had to do it.
George’s junior year, he met Caitlin. She was new to the rowing team and they became quick friends. He told her to check out this video of 4 guys rowing across the ocean. She did and he asked if she was interested. She thought he was crazy. George told her to look at the video again and if she felt the same, he would continue on trying to find a partner to take on this challenge. She watched it again and the two started to figure out what they needed to do.
After getting the boat and all of our equipment, George and Caitlin set off from the Canary Islands on December 20, 2015. They endured isolation, extreme heat, weight loss, navigating the sea with other larger vessels, storms, a hurricane and they eventually made landfall on February 16, 2016 in Antigua.
George’s new challenge after the ocean row is now going to law school. He is entering his second year at Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law.