Rhode Island’s Elizabeth Beisel becomes first woman to swim from mainland to Block Island

Mark Humphrey
Three-time Olympian Elizabeth Beisel made the 10.4-mile swim from Rhode Island to Block Island on Sunday.

Three-time Olympian and Rhode Island native Elizabeth Beisel made history on Saturday, becoming the first woman to swim from mainland Rhode Island to the shores of Block Island.

Swimming for the for the nonprofit Swim Across America to benefit cancer research and patient programs, and in honor of her late father Charles “Ted” Lyons Beisel, who passed away from pancreatic cancer in July, Beisel completed the 10.4-mile swim despite two weather postponements and a finish-line riptide.

“I’m humbled and honored to have completed this Block Cancer swim,” said Beisel, an 18-time All-American at Florida. “As a child growing up in Rhode Island and swimming in the ocean along our beautiful coastline, I always dreamed of swimming to Block Island. I envisioned my dad on the island waiting for me to finish with an ear-to-ear grin on his face — how proud he would be that I made it. Sadly, he passed before I could make this swim, but he knew I was going to do it and that helped sustain him during his final months. I’ll never get to hug him again, but his fight wasn’t for nothing.


“I know that my dad’s battle, along with the money raised by Block Cancer, will save someone’s life one day. He is smiling knowing we helped give someone and their family the most precious gift of all time.”

Beisel, who captained Team USA at the Olympics in 2016 began her swim on Matunuck Beach by Ocean Mist in South Kingstown, R.I., her father’s favorite restaurant. She swam the 10.4 miles to the northeast tip of Block Island in 5 hours and 19 minutes, where she was greeted by her mother Joannie and her brother Danny.

Beisel’s swim has raised over $135,000 for Swim Across America.


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