INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The professors back in Gainesville, Fla., will be proud.
As Elizabeth Beisel held off Stanford‘s Maya DiRado to win the 400-yard individual medley Friday night at the Division I Women‘s Swimming and Diving Championships, the schoolbooks were forgotten for a few minutes. Or were they?
|2013 DI W SWIM AND DIVE CHAMPIONSHIP|
|Recap: Georgia upends Cal for title|
|Highlights | Final Results|
|Feature: Beisel able to balance it all – and succeed|
|Feature: Even after gold, Schmitt still pushed|
|Recap: Georgia holds on for Day 2 lead|
|Highlights | Results|
|Feature: USC’s family connection|
|Feature: Stanford coach making most of Year 1|
|Recap: Georgia leads after Day 1|
|Feature: Georgia ready to break through|
|Qualifiers | Divers | Championship info|
During an incredible eight months in which Beisel, a junior at Florida, won two medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games and won 22 individual event races for the Gators, she also was named the Southeastern Conference Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year. With a 3.88 grade-point average, she is one smart Gator.
“It was definitely a really big honor,” she said. “I was very excited to hear about it.”
A communications major, Beisel managed to keep up with her schoolwork not only during the college swim season but also in 2012 when she was training for the London Olympic Games. She won a silver medal in the 400-meter IM at the Olympics and a bronze in the 200 backstroke.
“It’s a lot to juggle,” Beisel said. “It’s been especially difficult this semester just because I’ve been so busy with school and swimming and stuff. I guess I try to be good at time management, I don’t know. I guess I’m good at it.”
With the demands of swimming meets and training, some of it requiring extended trips away from Gainesville, Beisel, just like any athlete, has to stay on top of schoolwork and project deadlines she might face in a class.
“The teachers are generally really good about that,” Beisel said. “They’ll sort of let me hand things in early or late, depending on what it is. They’re really accommodating to our schedules as athletes.”
A native of Rhode Island and a big Boston Red Sox fan who attends games at Fenway Park every year, Beisel has volunteered time with the Special Olympics in Rhode Island and also with the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. She has helped run swim meets for the Special Olympics.
Her community work and swimming accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. When Beisel returned to Rhode Island following the conclusion of the Olympic Games in London, a special ride was awaiting her at T.F. Green Airport near Providence.
“It was so crazy. I was so surprised. They picked me up in a limo at the airport and brought me to my high school. And there were like a ton of people waiting for me,” she said. “I was so overwhelmed. After this six-hour flight, I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m so tired.’ But it was really cool.”
The way Beisel is swimming for Florida, there might be another celebration awaiting her at North Kingstown High School in Rhode Island. She was the top point-winner at the SEC Championships three weeks ago. She placed fifth in the 200 IM on Thursday and has helped the Gators to a pair of top eight finishes in relay events.
Beisel is the defending NCAA champion in the 200 backstroke. Saturday, she’ll battle Cal freshman Elizabeth Pelton and Florida teammate Sinead Russell for the national title in that event. Pelton’s time of 1:48.39 in the 200 back is more than two seconds faster than Beisel or Russell.
After winning the 400 IM in 4:00.49, that was the first thing on Beisel’s mind. Time.
“I wish the time was a little bit better,” she said. “But I think anytime you can come out with a win, it’s really good, especially for the team. This is the kind of meet that’s sort of focused on how many points you can score for the team and stuff and what your team ranking is. I’m definitely glad I was able to get some points for the team.”