Beisel on training for her Block Island swim
“Oats. A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.” —A Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson (1755).
Well those hardy Scots were sure on to something, and out of their early find was eventually born the Quaker Oats Company and oatmeal as a nutrition staple for many.
It has certainly been a cornerstone of Elizabeth Beisel’s training leading up to her swim from Matunuck to Block Island this past weekend. Called “Block Cancer,” the event drew large crowds and news media to the North Light on Corn Neck and is closing in on raising an event record $150,000 in pledges for cancer research.
Beisel is a personable dynamo from North Kingstown, R.I. who makes everyone instantly feel special, a trait that transcends her accomplishments.
“I trained by eating oatmeal for a month leading up to the swim,” noted Beisel. “And the night before the swim I chowed down a poke bowl, some cereal and pasta, and then in the morning... more oatmeal.”
Would she be having it again Sunday morning? “Uh, no” she emphatically emphasized while smiling from under a bright pink sun hat, relaxing at Ballard’s with a warming coffee, “I’m off the oatmeal training table for a bit. Maybe quite a bit.”
During her 5-plus hour swim, she violated the old parental mantra, “don’t eat for an hour before you go swimming,” by consuming additional cereal bars and maple syrup packets along with energy drinks every 30 minutes.
“I was doing fine till I hit the break well off the North Light,” she recounted, “then it felt like I never moved. I kept looking up and I was in the same place and started to mentally question what was going on with me.”
Guided by her two kayaker’s suggestion, she shifted her 5-foot 6-inches, 135-pound body into a different direction around some of the break and currents and was, an hour later, out of the water celebrating with a smile that can light up one’s day.
A remarkable two-time 2012 Olympian medalist and 2016 Team USA Captain, Beisel at age 29 made history as the first woman to accomplish the challenge, met by curious and supportive seals as she approached the near 11-mile finish line.
Think about that for a minute. Many Block Island visitors have trouble first planning from a beach blanket, then executing a lunging, side tiptoeing, backside first, over the first line of waves at our beaches. Hop in the water and swim 11 miles over from Matunuck? Okay, this lady is surely special.
Not only is the swim impressive, Beisel finds herself in second place for the most money raised for the organization by an individual ($139,000 on a new higher goal of $150,000) and can move into first place with just a few more donations for Swim Across America, an organization dedicated
to raising money to find a cure for cancer, from which her dad died this past summer.
Tom Hunt, a spokesman for the organization, noted that Beisel has single-handedly raised more money than hundreds of their swimmers combined. “She becomes very focused when she sets a goal!.”
After the race, Beisel mingled seamlessly at Ballard’s, greeting everyone warmly for over two hours with an effervescent smile when most of us would be pining for a hospital bed. When asked about her dad, she paused, her eyes sparkling, and smiled, “he’s here, he’s always here.”