Elizabeth Beisel is a castaway on the latest season of Survivor. Beisel was the first castaway to be sent to the Island of the Idols, and many have pegged her as an early favorite to be this season’s champion. Survivor host Jeff Probst has described Beisel as “one of the most energetic and charismatic people you’ll ever meet,” and she said that she’s looking forward to challenging herself on live television.
Beisel, a silver medalist at the Olympics, said that doesn’t want to let her past success impede on her chances of winning. “I will definitely not announce that I’m an Olympian,” she explained. Read on to learn more her upbringing, her swimming background, and what she plans to do to secure a victory on Survivor.
Here’s what you need to know about Elizabeth Beisel:
1. Beisel Was Born In Rhode Island & Began Swimming Competitively At Age 5
Beisel was born on August 18, 1992 in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. Her mother was a college swimmer for the University of Rhode Island, and she encouraged Beisel to take up swimming from the age of five. “I grew up in the Ocean State and lived a block away from the beach,” she told Parade. “My parents were like, ‘We’re going to be at the beach all summer; she needs to learn how to swim.’ That turned into a love for the water, and ten years later, I became an Olympian.”
In an interview with Us Magazine, Beisel revealed that her first sport was diving, but she proved so bad at it that her mother urged her to try out for the swim team instead. Beisel also admitted that she was incredibly nervous during her first race. “During my first race ever, I peed on the blocks because I was so nervous,” she said.
Beisel became a member of the U.S. national swim team when she was 13, and she was accepted on an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. She won nine Southeastern Conference (SEC) individual championships for the university, and was honored as the SEC Female Swimmer of the Year in 2012. She also received eighteen All-American honors and earned first-team Academic All-America recognition.
2. Beisel Has Competed In 3 Olympic Competitions & Won 2 Medals
Beisel’s dream growing up was to compete in the Olympics. “I watched my first Olympics on TV. It was the 2000 Sydney Games,” she told USA Swimming. “I remember watching swimming and telling myself that I wanted to be there one day.” She achieved her dream at age 15, when she competed at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.
Beisel was the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic swim team, but she managed to clock the best time in the preliminaries of the 400-meter individual medley. She went on to finish fourth in the final with a time of 4:34.24. She also had the second fastest time in the semi-finals. She won a silver medal and a bronze medal. Beisel also competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero.
When asked about the experience of competing in the Olympics, Beisel told that nothing compares. “Swimming has also given me things that are much bigger than a gold medal and much bigger than that feeling,” she told Us Magazine. “I have best friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life, and I’ve learned lessons that I’ll keep with me for the rest of my life. No matter what, swimming has given me amazing things, but obviously I would like to end the day with a gold medal.”
3. Beisel Is a Trained Violinist & Classical Pianist
In addition to her Olympic-level talents, Beisel is a trained violinist and pianist. She has been practicing the former since she was three, and she continues to play both in her spare time. She told the New York Times that music appealed to her because it represents a long-term vocation in comparison to a sports career, which is short-term.
“The longevity of playing an instrument is your entire life,” Beisel explained. “I always knew that if anything went wrong, I could go back to the violin or the piano. I have such a passion for the arts that not many people know about.” Beisel went on to say that playing music has allowed her to weigh the passions she has in her life.
“This past year, I have done a lot of soul searching, and I have continued to enjoy swimming because I came to realize that I am one of the luckiest people on the planet,” she admitted. “I realized that swimming was an opportunity and not an obligation, and that I am getting paid to stay in shape and spend time with my best friends and do the sport I have loved my entire life.”
4. Beisel Retired from Swimming In 2017 to Pursue a Reporting Career
Beisel announced her retirement from swimming in 2017. She told Bustle that she never planned to swim forever, and the she had other passions that she wanted to pursue. “I realize that swimming isn’t a rest-of-my-life career, and I sort of wanted to do it the way I wanted to do it,” she revealed. “And that’s going to be me having fun with it, and me being happy, and me choosing to enjoy what I do because otherwise, if you just go through the motions, you’re going to be miserable.”
Beisel said that her dream position would be sports reporter at ESPN. “She grew up with a dream of being an anchor on the Today Show, but would be happy working at a local news station,” read her bio. Beisel briefly worked in the sports department at her local NBC affiliate in Providence, Rhode Island.
5. Beisel Is Eager to Take on the ‘Challenge’ of ‘Survivor’ Competition
During her Parade interview, Beisel explained her reasoning for appearing on Survivor. She said that she misses the competition of swimming, and that she is eager to challenge herself after being away for so long. “That’s what excites me most about Survivor. I haven’t been challenged since the Olympics with such high pressure and stakes,” she said. “Going into this game, I’m probably the most excited and nervous I’ve been since the Olympics. And that’s huge to say.”
“This is a completely different beast in itself,” Beisel continued. “When I’m swimming at the Olympics, I’m fully rested. I’m fully fueled. The pool is heated to my liking. Here I am trying to compete with that same physical ability with no food, no sleep, in ‘nature’s pool.’ It will be interesting to see if I’m the athlete I truly think I am. This is the equalizer.”
Beisel told CBS that she has the physical and social skills to make it to the end. “I can easily connect with people—my alliances will be strong and help carry me through the game,” she claimed. “I can win individual Immunity due to my strength as an athlete. I’m a tough girl who will fight until the end.”