Versatility, competitiveness key to Beisel’s success


Elizabeth Beisel plans to train at Florida once she graduates to prepare for the 2016 Olympics.

Published: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 10:16 p.m.

Florida head coach Gregg Troy sees the key to the success of standout senior swimmer Elizabeth Beisel as being pretty simple.

“Elizabeth likes to finish first,” Troy said.

It’s a plan that has worked quite well for Beisel, a two-time U.S. Olympian (2008, 2012) and 14-time All-American who will wind up her stellar collegiate career in three months when the 2014 NCAA Women’s Championships are held in Minneapolis, Minn., March 20-22.

“I really do like to win,” Beisel said. “It’s just something that’s always been a part of me, but if I don’t win, I’m not somebody who is going to let it bother me for the rest of my life. Obviously I’m never going to win all the time, so it’s just a good feeling when you do win and know that some of your hard work has paid off.”

One of the friendliest and most outgoing student-athletes to ever come through UF, Beisel is full of life and full of fun.

But when it’s time to compete, she is full of focus.

“I think it’s something I’ve always had,” Beisel said. “Even when I was a little kid, I was never like ‘mean’ competitive, but once I’m behind the blocks and in the water, then it’s go time. But afterward, I’ll be all smiling and stuff.”

Beisel’s accomplishments are certainly impressive. In addition to winning two Olympic medals in London in 2012 — a silver in the 400-meter individual medley and a bronze in the 200 backstroke — the North Kingstown, R.I., native was the 2011 world champion in the 400 IM and owns a pair of NCAA titles (400-yard IM, 2013 and 200-yard back, 2012) in addition to seven individual SEC titles, two SEC Commissioner’s Trophies (2012, 2013) as the highest-scoring female at the conference meet, and last year became just the 11th student-athlete in UF history to be named Capital One Academic All-America of the Year.

Just the tip of the iceberg, really, but the fact that this year Beisel is still racking up wins despite competing in some new events is a testament to her versatility and competitiveness.

“Elizabeth Beisel can swim everything, so she gives you a great mainstay to build around,” Troy said. “It doesn’t matter where we put her in or what event she’s in, she’ll step up and do a great job.”

Beisel admits it’s been a win-win proposition.

“It just sort of happened,” she said. “(Troy) would put me wherever he needed me in spots where we were a little bit weaker so that we could get some more points. Whether I’m swimming a 1,000 free or a 200 back, I’m still going to try and win. It’s my nature.

“I think it’s been cool to be successful in different events that I’ve never really swam before. It just shows how Coach Troy makes everybody swimmers, not just specialists like backstrokers or freestylers. We’re just swimmers, and we can all do anything.”

Beisel, elected a team captain this year, also has stepped up as a leader.

“It’s not a natural situation for Elizabeth,” Troy said. “She’s very gregarious and friendly and gets along with everybody, so she tries to tread lightly as far as stepping on other people’s toes. But by the same token, she’s so well-liked, and with her ability to stand up and race on a day-to-day basis in training and practice, there’s a respect from the team for what she does. Even though this is a relatively smaller women’s team than what we’re used to having, it’s much more cohesive.”

Beisel, who is considering a career in broadcast journalism, plans on staying in Gainesville after graduation and training under Troy for her third and final Olympics in 2016.

“That’s the plan at least,” she said. “I wouldn’t go anywhere else. This is what works for me and I love it here.

“After that, I plan on retiring. I think I’ll be ready to throw in the cap and goggles. I want to move on to something else, but it’s definitely been a fun ride.”

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