AUBURN, Ala. — The alarm goes off in Florida’s team hotel. Teresa Crippen and Elizabeth Beisel both wake up.
Crippen immediately hops out of her bed – ready to begin her day. Beisel rolls over in the adjacent bed, checks her phone and stays put, trying to get every last moment under the covers.
Crippen gets dressed and prepares herself for the day, while Beisel stays put and turns the “Today” show on TV.
Once Crippen finishes up her morning routine, Beisel finally gets out of bed and takes her turn.
“We have a rotation,” Crippen says. “It works out perfectly.”
The pair of Gator All-Americans, who have been rooming together on the road since Beisel came in as a freshman in the fall of 2010, have incredibly different personalities. Yet, they have both helped each other become better swimmers and better people.
Beisel, a sophomore, is known as the most relaxed and carefree swimmers for the Gators. It’s not often when she doesn’t have a smile on her face and isn’t living life to the fullest.
Crippen is the opposite. She is the most focused swimmer on Florida. She does smile and enjoys life, but is more quiet and subdued. And it when it comes to event, she has her eye solely on the prize.
Their days of sharing a room on the road are numbered as Crippen, a senior, is participating in her fourth and final collegiate meet this weekend at the NCAA Championships.
Beisel, a sophomore, is competing in her second national meet, having qualified for eight NCAA events.
Though the two have only been teammates at Florida since 2010, they have been close friends for years.
Growing up in the same region — Crippen a Philadelphia native, Beisel from Rhode Island — the two would run into each other at the same events throughout the Northeast.
It was an annual meet which fell right after Christmas on the campus of Rutgers in which the two started to become close.
A combination of the cold weather and post-Christmas training had both Crippen and Beisel feeling down.
The two would always find themselves in the same warm-up pool. They could tell how sore each other was from the previous day. They each noticed how much their coaches were yelling at them.
Crippen and Beisel could feel each other’s pain.
The cure: the nearby Somerset Diner and its “wicked good omelets,” that Beisel chose to order.
Everyday while in New Brunswick for the meet, the two would go to the same diner for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“For some reason, getting to this one diner would get us through this meet,” Crippen said.
At the Somerset Diner, Crippen and Beisel got to know each other better and used to help each other get through the meet.
As the two continued to improve, their paths would cross many more times, expanding from not just within the region, but the entire country and around the world as they both debuted for the U.S. national team at the 2006 Pac Pac Games.
Four years later Crippen, who had just wrapped up her second season in Gainesville, earning a combined seven All-American honors in two years, was joined at Florida by her long-time friend.
But Crippen didn’t push Florida on Beisel too hard and let her friend make the decision on her own.
“I’m a big fan of exploring all your options and taking your trips and not committing early,” Crippen said. “Even though I may have really wanted [Beisel] to come to Florida, I knew it just might not work out. I would rather her be happy where she is, than be selfish and have her with me.”
Coincidentally, Beisel narrowed her schools to California and Florida – the same schools Crippen chose between.
Crippen answered every question Beisel had about both schools and at the end of the day the two reunited.
Since upperclassmen and freshmen typically don’t room together at school, the pair made sure to be roommates when traveling with the team.
Crippen and Beisel continued to bond and learn more about each other in and out of the pool.
Beisel learned that Crippen is good at pretty much everything she does.
“She makes all of us look bad,” Beisel said. “It’s good to be friends with her because I get to reap the benefits of her being good at everything.”
Those benefits include getting to feast on the many baked goods Crippen whips up. Beisel, on the other hand, tends to be a bit of a klutz in the kitchen and may let an occasional egg shell drop into the cake batter.
But whether it is in the kitchen or in the pool, Crippen has been there to not just to poke a little fun at her teammate, but to help Beisel.
“Everyone gives her a hard time,” Crippen said. “She likes to help and I try to help her with stuff like that outside the pool.”
When it comes to swimming, Beisel, an Olympian in 2008, uses her laid-back attitude to relax Crippen.
“Elizabeth has helped Teresa be more relaxed,” Florida head coach Gregg Troy said. “And Teresa has helped Elizabeth become more focused.”
Beisel said Crippen could be having a terrible day and still beat the rest of the team.
“I work hard and I definitely know when its time to work and time to play, but she really knows how to work and when to work and how to do it at the best of her ability,” Beisel said. “And that’s something I wish I could do.”
The two have learned how to help each other when one has a bad day.
Crippen can now recognize if her road roomie is troubled even if she is smiling.
“[Beisel] might put on a face and smile for everybody else. I can tell if she is actually really happy or just pretending,” Crippen said.
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In 2010, Crippens’ brother Fran tragically passed away and Beisel was right there to comfort and console her friend.
“If Beisel wasn’t there that year, I don’t think I would still be swimming,” Crippen said. “She just has this way of making everyone around her feel better.”
In swimming it is rare for two people that have competed with each other for so long to be so close.
Crippen and Beisel are still extremely competitive. They both claim the other is better, but as Crippen pointed out “It’s Beisel. Look at the times. The numbers don’t lie.”
Though Beisel does have a more prestigious resume, it is unclear where either she or Crippen would be without each other.
“[Crippen] is somebody that I have looked up to since I was little,” Beisel said. “If I strive to be like someone, I want to be like Teresa.”
Between the preliminary and final sessions, naps are in order. They both snore, although neither will admit it.
Once again, the alarm goes off. And just like earlier, it is Crippen who is quick to rise while, Beisel continues to rest and this time puts on either “Maury” or “Law and Order.”
It’s just another day on the road with the Gators’ dangerous duo.