Olympic double-medalist Elizabeth Beisel survived a solo trip to a neighboring island in the first episode of the reality TV show “Survivor,” broadcast Wednesday night, and has emerged as a contender to win top honors in the show’s 39th season.
The site GoldDerby.com ranks Beisel as the early favorite after the debut episode.
“Olympic swimmer Elizabeth Beisel entered in a pretty good position when the other girls found out how athletically promising she’ll be for their tribe,” wrote GoldDerby’s live recappers.
SwimSwam’s Jared Anderson also thinks Beisel fared well in the early going: “Beisel does mostly what swimming fans would have expected: she’s bubbly, she’s outgoing and she makes connections.”
Beisel was picked at random to go to alone to the Island of the Idols after her tribe lost the first challenge. On the island, she received mentoring from past winners Sandra Diaz-Twine and Rob Mariano. After learning how to make fire, Beisel was given a chance to wager her newfound skill in a fire-making contest against Mariano. She accepted the challenge and lost, meaning she would have no vote in the first session of deciding who will be voted off the show.
Another Olympic swimmer — Katrina Radke, who finished fifth in the 200m individual medley in the 1988 Olympics at age 17 — was the first person voted out in the series’ 35th season in 2017.
Beisel qualified for her first Olympics, the 2008 Games, at age 15. After placing fourth in the 400m individual medley and fifth in the 200m backstroke in Athens, she improved two spots in each event four years later at the 2012 Olympics to take silver and bronze medals. She made her third Olympic team in 2016. She also won three world championship medals, including gold in the 400m medley in 2011.
“Survivor” isn’t Beisel’s first appearance on TV outside of sports competition. She also was on the winning USA Swimming team on “Celebrity Family Feud.”
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