Elizabeth Beisel successfully swam 16.7km from mainland Rhode Island to Block Island on Saturday, September 25, 2021. She is the first woman ever to complete this open water swim. Photo credit: Swim Across America / Cate Brown Photos.

On September 25th, three-time Olympian and 2016 Team USA Captain Elizabeth Beisel overcame two weather-related postponements and fought through a finish-line riptide to make history as the first woman to swim the 10.4 miles from mainland Rhode Island to Block Island. She undertook this open-water challenge as a fundraiser for the nonprofit Swim Across America (SAA) to benefit cancer research and patient programs in honor of her father, Charles “Ted” Lyons Beisel, who passed away from pancreatic cancer in July. To date this charity swim has raised over $135,000.

“I’m humbled and honored to have completed this Block Cancer swim,” said Elizabeth. “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.”

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

Elizabeth entered the water at Matunuck Beach by Ocean Mist, her father’s favorite restaurant, and swam the 10.4 miles to the northeast tip of Block Island in 5 hours and 19 minutes. Her mom Joannie and brother Danny greeted Elizabeth with a hug when she reached Block Island.

The on-water safety crew for Elizabeth’s swim included two veteran kayakers, two escort boats, Atlantic Shark Institute executive director Jon Dodd, Marathon Swimmers Federation observer and marathon swimmer Elaine Howley, SAA CEO Rob Butcher, Olympian Craig Beardsley and family friend Jack Nichting.

What’s Up Newp caught up with Beisel for a one-on-one live virtual video interview.

Donations and merchandise are available at blockcancer.org.

Swim Across America, Inc. (SAA) is dedicated to raising money and awareness for cancer research, prevention and treatment through swimming-related events. Founded in 1987, Swim Across America has raised more than $100 million to support cancer research and clinical trials. With the help of hundreds of volunteers nationwide and Olympians, Swim Across America is helping find a cure for cancer through athleticism, community outreach and direct service. To learn more visit  swimacrossamerica.org or follow on Facebook @swimacrossamerica and Instagram and Twitter @SAASwim.

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.