Elizabeth Beisel Completes Block Island Swim, Raises More than $130,000 for Cancer Research

Photo Courtesy: Corey Favino/Cate Brown Photo

Elizabeth Beisel Completes Block Island Swim, Raises More than $130,000 for Cancer Research

Olympic swimmer Elizabeth Beisel on Saturday became the first woman to swim to Block Island, a 10.4-mile trip. The Block Cancer swim, done in memory of her late father, has raised more than $130,000 for cancer research and awareness via a partnership with Swim Across America.

Beisel covered the distance in five hours and 19 minutes, departing from Matunuck beach just after 6 a.m. on Saturday. She was greeted on the island by her mother, Joannie, and brother Danny. A group of supporters awaited her at Ballad’s Beach Resort later in the day.

“I felt amazing the first three hours,” Beisel told the Providence Journal. “I was like, ‘Ah, this is cake.’ Then the current started to pick up. The swell started to pick up. There was a bit of a (riptide) coming into Block Island, and that’s kind of when I started to get discouraged and in my own head.”


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The swim was twice postponed, first from Sept. 9 (due to hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean) and again last Wednesday. Conditions finally relented on the weekend for the attempt.

The 29-year-old Beisel is a native of Rhode Island. She won a silver medal in the women’s 400 individual medley and a bronze in the 200 backstroke at the 2012 London Olympics. The former University of Florida standout also swam at the 2008 and 2016 Olympics.


Photo Courtesy: Corey Favino/Cate Brown Photo

Beisel had never participated in an open-water race before, but the swim to Block Island proceeded under Marathon Swimming Federation Rules. Her on-water support crew included two kayakers and two support boats. Atlantic Shark Institute executive director Jon Dodd, Marathon Swimmers Federation observer and marathon swimmer Elaine Howley, Swim Across America CEO Rob Butcher, Olympian Craig Beardsley and family friends Jack Nichting and Stephanie Cotsonas were among those supporting her during the swim.

Beisel’s father, Ted Beisel, died in July after a battle with pancreatic cancer. After her work commentating on the Tokyo Olympics for NBC, Elizabeth Beisel turned her attention to the Block Island swim, helping to raise six figures.

“I just wish my dad was here, honestly,” Beisel said. “I know that he’s here in spirit. Everybody who has fought cancer and who’s beat cancer, this is for them.”

“Elizabeth has been supporting Swim Across America for many years, even before her father’s diagnosis, so this was our opportunity to support her,” Butcher said. “Our cancer researchers will use the Block Cancer funds for science and patient care that will hopefully save someone’s life in the future.”

You can still give to Beisel’s Block Cancer campaign at this link.

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