PAWTUCKET â€“ The Elizabeth Beisel Welcome Home Tour made a stop at McCoy Stadium Wednesday evening, as the North Kingstown native and Olympic medalist threw out the first pitch and signed autographs at the ballparkâ€™s Cox Fan Center.
Standing on the field in her Team USA jacket and a PawSox cap, Beisel was presented a Pawtucket team jacket by General Manager Lou Schweichheimer and infielder Tony Thomas, who took the occasion to tweet the following after catching the ceremonial toss: â€śNot a bad arm for a swimmer; thanks for keeping it close so I could catch it!â€ť
Beisel admits sheâ€™s still on cloud nine after returning to Rhode Island a week ago after exiting the just-completed London Games with a silver medal in the 400-meter individual medley and a bronze medal in the 200-meter backstroke. Thereâ€™s a part of her, however, that has enjoyed the aspect of being in the company of friends and family following many months of intense training.
â€śIâ€™ve missed home a lot,â€ť Beisel admitted, â€śbut itâ€™s weird because I still donâ€™t see myself as a big deal.â€ť
Try telling that to the crowds that have seemingly flocked toward Beisel whenever the junior-to-be at the University of Florida has stepped out in public, whether the setting is the mall or the movies. While thereâ€™s no doubt that Beisel is deserving in her hometown hero status, to her what sticks out is the impact sheâ€™s been able to register with the stateâ€™s aquatic community.
â€śWhen I came home for that little homecoming gathering (at North Kingstown High School), there were little kids in bathing suits and caps,â€ť Beisel noted. â€śIn the Northeast and even in Rhode Island, swimming isnâ€™t big at all. To see little kids get inspired because of something that I did is really cool because obviously I really love swimming and would love to see Rhode Island get more involved in it.â€ť
Beisel was asked to share some of her Olympic memories that didnâ€™t pertain to competition. That triggered a quick response as to the teenager, what stood out were the bonding sessions with her fellow Red, White & Blue representatives.
â€śKobe Bryant was my absolute favorite,â€ť remarked Beisel, referring to the menâ€™s basketball star. â€śHe gave all us (meaning members of the U.S. womenâ€™s swim team) a hug and was so excited to meet us.â€ť
Thereâ€™s no rest for the weary as Beisel will return to Gainesville in five days to get ready for a new school year and college swim season. The Red Sox reached out to have her partake in an on-field ceremony prior to a game, but Beisel had to politely decline due to school commitments.
â€śGetting back to reality will be a little tough, but Iâ€™m excited to go back to school,â€ť she admits. â€śCollege swimming is much more relaxed (as opposed to Olympic swimming) and thereâ€™s not as much pressure. Plus youâ€™re getting ready for a meet with all your best friends. With the Olympics itâ€™s a little bit harder because thereâ€™s so much more pressure.â€ť