Olympian Elizabeth Beisel to Swim 12.4 Miles in Open Ocean in Honor of Her Late Father

If Elizabeth Beisel achieves her goal, she will be the first woman to swim from Rhode Island to Block Island

elizabeth beisel
Elizabeth Beisel and her dad. Photo: elizabeth beisel/instagram

Olympic swimmer Elizabeth Beisel is setting out to make history in honor of her late father.

Elizabeth, who competed in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, is setting out to swim the 12.4 miles through the Atlantic ocean from Rhode Island to Block Island.

If she achieves her goal, she will be the first woman to make the swim.

The swim is in partnership with the nonprofit Swim Across America to raise money for cancer research and has been dubbed Block Cancer.

Elizabeth, 29, decided to do the swim after her dad, Ted Beisel, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on Christmas Day last year.

The athlete told Good Morning America that she came up with the idea for the swim after her dad's diagnosis, hoping that it would give him something to look forward to.

elizabeth beisel
Elizabeth Beisel. Ezra Shaw/Getty

But after Ted's death in July, the swim is now also a way to remember her dad.

"I have so many memories of being [on Block Island] with my dad flying kites, just going around the island," Elizabeth told GMA.

"He didn't want the swim to be about him whatsoever. He wanted it to be about everybody who was fighting cancer," she added. "It gave my dad a lot of joy to kind of see Block Cancer come into fruition and turn into what it is now."

While Elizabeth's initial goal for Block Cancer was to raise $5,000, she has already raised more than $110,000. The money will be given to hospitals in Rhode Island for cancer research, including the hospital where her dad received care, according to GMA.

The athlete calls the monetary amount raised "overwhelming."

"As sad as it is, cancer is going to touch all of us in some way at some point," she told GMA. "And, you know, for me, to be able to have a platform where I can bring people together … it's kind of a beautiful thing."

Elizabeth was originally scheduled to embark on the swim on Sept. 9, but was forced to postpone due to unsafe conditions brought on by Hurricane Larry. She and her team will determine a safer day later this month.

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"I envisioned him being in Block Island waiting for me to finish with an ear-to-ear grin on his face," Elizabeth wrote on the Block Cancer website. "I replayed the 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.' "

"While he'll never get to see me swim to Block Island and I'll never get to hug him again, his fight wasn't for nothing," she continued. "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."

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