Can Olympic swimmer Elizabeth Beisel be the first woman to swim 16.7km to Block Island?


Olympic swimmer and medalist Elizabeth Beisel will make history on September 9, 2021 when she swims from Point Judith, Narragansett, Rhode Island, USA to Block Island, Rhode Island in her BLOCK CANCER SWIM. If completed, she will be the first woman to swim the 20km route successfully. 

Beisel is making this daunting open water swim in memory of her father Ted Beisel, who was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in December 2020 and sadly passed away on July 1, 2021. The news of his diagnosis prompted her to take action the best way she knows how, which is by swimming.

Elizabeth has a younger brother named Danny Beisel. Their mother Joan Beisel was a swimmer at the University of Rhode Island

“I quickly realized what my family was going through was sadly all too common and that the most impactful way I could raise funds for cancer research and clinical trials would be through my swimming platform,” Elizabeth said. “I’m hoping the funds raised by Block Cancer will help support families who have been affected by this horrible disease and get us one step closer to finding a cure.” 

Joan Beisel, Ted Beisel, Elizabeth Beisel, Danny Beisel
Joan Beisel, Ted Beisel, Elizabeth Beisel, Danny Beisel

Swim Across America is honored to work alongside Elizabeth to raise critical funds to fight cancer through her swim to Block Island and according to the nonprofit’s chief executive officer Rob Butcher, so many in its community have come to love her because of how generous she is with her time and encouragement. He said, “This is our opportunity to show her our love and encouragement as she takes on the Block Island swim to honor her loved one’s fight against cancer.” 

Butcher will be in one of the two boats accompanying Elizabeth as she swims the 20km between Pt. Judith and Block Island, along with an emergency medical technical, two shark experts and her coach Elaine Howley, a marathon swimmer who successfully swam across the English Channel. Elizabeth chose this swim to Block Island as she grew up in Rhode Island and swimming to Block Island was always something she dreamed of doing as a child. 

“I have always envisioned my Dad being at Block Island waiting for me to finish with an ear to ear grin on his face,” Elizabeth said. “I replay that scene over and over of how as soon as I reached land, I would run into his arms and give him a hug and he would whisper proudly, ‘You did it, Elizabeth.’ Sadly, he’ll never get to see me swim to Block Island and 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,” Elizabeth continued. “He is smiling knowing he gifted someone and their family the most precious gift of all time.”


According to the American Cancer Society, one-in-two men and one-in-three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Elizabeth said this staggering statistic, coupled with dozens of hours of research, led her to do her part in making a difference and her goal is to raise $100,000 to go toward crucial cancer research.

Representing the U.S., Elizabeth finished fourth in the 400-meter individual medley and fifth in the 200-meter backstroke at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China. She won a bronze medal in the 200-meter backstroke at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England and finished sixth in the 400-meter individual medley at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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