Elizabeth Beisel Completes “Block Cancer” Swim, Raises Over $135k

On September 25th, three-time Olympian Elizabeth Beisel completed the 10.4-mile ocean swim from mainland Rhode Island to Block Island. She partnered with Swim Across America and dubbed this campaign “Block Cancer” in honor of her late father, Charles “Ted” Lyons Beisel, who passed away in July after a battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

This makes Beisel the first woman to successfully complete this swim nonstop and unassisted under Marathon Swimmers Federation rules.

Beisel overcame substantial physical and mental barriers in order to complete this swim. The event had previously been postponed twice, both due to unsafe weather conditions. During the last two miles of the swim, the winds shifted gears and caused Beisel to hit a rip current, which pulls swimmers away from the shoreline. According to her safety crew, she fought against the currents, and it was as if Beisel was “on a treadmill for over an hour, going nowhere.”

Nevertheless, she persevered and her navigators guided her on a path to the shoreline. Beisel completed the marathon swim in 5 hours and 19 minutes. She became the first woman in history to complete the swim while fulfilling her father’s dying wish.

Photo Courtesy: Swim Across America, Cate Brown Photos

Beisel is no stranger to perseverance. The 29 year-old Rhode Island native spent 12 consecutive years competing on the US National Team, culminated with three Olympic appearances. Specializing in IM and backstroke events, Beisel won two medals at the 2012 London Olympics: a silver in the 400 IM and a bronze in the 200 backstroke. She also competed on CBS’s reality TV show Survivor, placing 9th during Season 39.

Beisel’s fundraiser has already drawn in more than $135,000 for cancer research and patient programs. As part of this program, Elizabeth Beisel and her mother Joan Beisel will meet with the Swim Across America science committee to help decide where to award the grants

“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, and he’s smiling knowing he gifted someone and their family the most precious gift of all time.”

Photo Courtesy: Cate Brown

Beisel emphasized that while this event honored her father, this campaign was created to honor and support anyone who’s been affected by cancer. Her efforts on Saturday morning demonstrated both courage and adversity, which is a trait she strives to teach young athletes.

“To anyone who has been touched by cancer – yesterday was for you and your loved ones. To the little girls out there – you are strong, and you can do ANYTHING.”

Photo Courtesy: Cate Brown

You can still donate to Beisel’s campaign through Swim Across America’s website.

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Roque Santos
1 year ago


1 year ago

I love you Beisel. Please do USMS

1 year ago

Elizabeth, can you answer: what percentage did you swim freestyle? Backstroke? Just curious if changing up strokes helped you get this tough swim.

Elizabeth's Kayaker
Reply to  Miley
1 year ago

Elizabeth swam freestyle the entire way.

Jimmy Tierney
1 year ago

This is fabulous! What to go Elizabeth! We can use more to join the SAA family as we continue this fight to Make Waves against cancer.

1 year ago

The entire family is second to none. RI proud, through and through. Always helping others…Hands down, Joanie was the best officiating mentor I’ve ever had. Elizabeth has always been an inspiration to others, and Danny is part of it as well. God Bless!

Lou Suta
1 year ago

A True Champion, unparalleled, Glory to God in the Highest. 🙂

1 year ago

what a gem.

1 year ago

Beisel is such an impressive human. In and out of the water.

Reply to  oxyswim
1 year ago

yess especially impressed by her survivor tactics!! not in a good way of course