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Olympian Elizabeth Beisel has reportedly called off her Block Island swim for the weather

Olympian Elizabeth Beisel has reportedly called off her Block Island swim for the weather

Elizabeth Beisel, a three-time Olympian from North Kingstown, has for the second time been forced to postpone her attempt to become the first woman to swim from the mainland to Block Island due to weather and ocean conditions.

Hurricane Larry had whipped up wind and waves, forcing her to call off the first attempt on Sept. 9. So Beisel had been planning to descend into the Atlantic at 6:15 a.m. On Wednesday, at Matunuck Beach, the beach was packed.

Beisel told the Globe on Tuesday that it was still a go at 4:45 this morning. The weather report at 8 a.m. stated that wind speeds are rapidly changing and there will be swells tomorrow.

So she and her team decided to postpone the swim until the weekend, hoping that conditions improve. I think it will be Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, she said. Saturday is looking good, said the governor.

Beisel, 29, said the Hurricane Larry postponement was an obvious choice. This time, however, the decision was less clear-cut, because "if you look outside tomorrow, it will be just fine," she added. But, she added, if she were to swim into a strong wind in the Block Island sound, it would be rocky not only for her but for the 15 members of her support team.

Beisel said, Its the right decision. But, she said, the postponements are hard because she is so prepared mentally and physically for the challenge.

Beisel said in January she would undertake the swim to raise money for cancer research and to encourage her father Ted Bei's battle with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. She said she came up with the Block Cancer idea as a way to give her father something to look forward to and if possible, aided by gaining money for cancer research.

All proceeds benefit the non-profit Swim Across America, which aims to fund cancer research, and Beisel said all of the money will go to Rhode Island, where her father received most of his treatment.

She could not swim until her father died on July 1 before she could make the attempt. One of his final wishes was that she would complete the Block Cancer charity swim.

Beisel said, He is going to be on my mind the entire time. Hes definitely someone Ill think of when I want to give up, which is inevitable, said Ms. Pearce.

She recalled watching her fathers health quickly decline and how bravely he fought the cancer.

Beisel added, I will remember that my swim isnt nearly as hard as my swimming. He will certainly be there with me in spirit, he added.

Beisel said she and her family frequently visited Block Island when she was a child, taking the ferry there and then flying kites.

I always wanted to swim to Block Island, growing up in the Ocean State, she said. Swimming is my sport. I said I can do that.

Beisel stated that swimming the 10.4 miles of open ocean to Block Island is a completely different beast from swimming 400 meters in an Olympic pool.

Being in the pool, I'm used to a controlled environment, with the water heated to up to 90 degrees, no wind, inside, she said.

Beisel explained that swimming in the ocean is determined by the day and what Mother Nature has in store. In Rhode Island during hurricane season, I have swum in 6-foot avalanches and in water so flat it looks like a pond in training.

Beisel said she is concerned that the water will continue to get colder if the attempt is continued. She plans to swim nonstop and unassisted, and she will not wear a wetsuit, which may give her traction.

Beisel said she is not concerned about sharks in part because most of them have probably moved south to warmer waters by now. She smiled and said, "They are smarter than me."

Also, she claims, sharks will probably stay away from the two motor boats and the kayaks that will accompany her. Her team of 15 will include shark experts, emergency medical technicians, a navigator, her swim coach, members of her family, and Elaine Howley of the Marathon Swimmers Federation.

Beisel acknowledged a little bit of trepidation about making the swim. I dont even know if I can do this, she said.

But if she is the first woman to ever swim to Block Island, she added, it would be so cool.

Beisel was quick to answer what she will do to celebrate if she succeeds and makes it to Block Island. I will have a mudslide for my reward, she said.

Beisel set $5,000 as the target when she first came up with the charity swim idea. As of Tuesday, the effort had raised $122,480, and donations are still being accepted. Visit blockcancer.org to donate and follow her swim progress.

Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatric@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.

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