NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (AP) — The only Rhode Islander to compete in this year's Olympic Games has come home to a hero's welcome at her alma mater on Wednesday.
Olympic medalist Elizabeth Beisel who won a silver medal in the 400-meter individual medley and a bronze in the 200-meter backstroke in London, told a crowded field of supporters at North Kingstown High School's football field that she's not done yet, pledging to begin work toward making her third Olympic team in 2016.
Beisel, 19, graduated from the high school in 2010 where she emerged as a swimming phenom. At the age of 15, she was the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic swim team at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.
And while Beisel failed to medal four years ago, she made up for it this time around. Her silver medal performance in the 400 individual medley of 4:31.27 was a personal best and second only to the world-record pace of 4:28.46 set by 16-year old Ye Shiwen of China.
Several hundred fans, many wearing T-shirts emblazoned with "Team Beisel" across the front, cheered "Beisel, Beisel, Beisel" as the Olympian entered the stadium. The shirts had been sold in town to help Beisel's family offset travel expenses for the trip to London.
In brief remarks, Beisel thanked her friends and supporters, becoming overwhelmed at times.
"It still hasn't sunk in yet," said Beisel of her Olympic experience. Speaking directly to the younger swimmers in the audience, she added, "Honestly, any one of you could make it to the Olympics. If I could do it, you can do it, because I'm not anything special."
As for how she transported her Olympic hardware from London to Providence, she smiled and reached for her purse, pulling out a pair of medals with "XXX Olympiad London 2012" scrolled around the edge.
Beisel, whose family lives in the Saunderstown section of North Kingstown, is scheduled to begin her junior year at the University of Florida in the fall.
The rally was sponsored by WJAR-TV.