Survivor Island of the Idols cast assessment: Elizabeth Beisel just keeps swimming

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Being an Olympic medalist doesn’t guarantee challenge prowess in Survivor. Let’s hope Elizabeth Beisel pulls off a better showcase than others in the past.

When I first prepared to watch Survivor: Gabon, I had anticipated that Crystal Cox was going to keep her tribes safe until the merge but would be picked off once it turned into the individual game. Not only did the Olympic Gold medalist go to an inordinate number of Tribal Councils, but her athletic skills seemed to disappear. Perhaps the anabolic steroids were really propping her up.

Not only is the bar low for Olympic athletes, following Katrina Radke’s first-boot spot in Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, but the bar for Team USA Olympic swimmers is also virtually non-existent. This bodes well for Elizabeth Beisel in Island of the Idols, although she seems to be one of a few recruits among a sea of Survivor superfans, according to fellow recruit Tom Laidlaw.

Many players entered Survivor without knowing the essential functions of the game. However, having a lack of experience in understanding how the game works in a sea of people who have been dreaming about this moment is a major obstacle to overcome. If there’s anybody who can persevere despite the challenges ahead of them, I’m convinced Elizabeth Beisel can pull it off.

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Though she is a two-time Olympic medalist, she’s said as much that she isn’t the Michael Phelps of her Team USA swimming squad. She knows her place as a capable competitor that can handle herself and still do well in competitions, yet knows that she’s best helping others as a natural leader, serving as a rising tide that lifts all boats.

Having that kind of humility is a rare trait for an athlete, and it’s keeping humble and not standing out that does well for athletes in this game. Additionally, having strong women is an underrated leg up through the tribal phase, yet they don’t typically get targeted first during uneven tribe swaps. I see nothing but pluses for Elizabeth in the early going of Island of the Idols.

Per her CBS bio, Elizabeth’s days as an active swimmer have since come and gone, as this is her first real “competition” since retiring a year ago. Though she is an athlete, she seems to draw Survivor inspiration from a socially-minded stance, as she takes after David vs. Goliath’s Kara to model an exuberant, positive mentality to bring into the game.

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Whether or not she’s fully in competitive mode from the start will determine Elizabeth’s longevity in Survivor: Island of the Idols. I can definitely see her taking advantage of the tests given to her by Boston Rob and Sandra on the island, as she’s learned well from coaches all her life. She has the determination to assess the scenarios ahead of her to know when to swim with, not against, the current.

It all comes down to the perception of her by others. She has shown off traits of being a leader from within a group, not ahead of a group, but that becomes something of a threat down the line. I have no doubts that she will make the merge unless she’s gunning for excellence right from the starts, as hyper-competitive players thriving well early tend to become loose ends to cut off at the merge.

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However, if she can model her social strategy like Kara in order to maintain a group of people she can work with down the line, I have no doubts that Elizabeth Beisel is one of the players to watch out for once Survivor: Island of the Idols premieres on Wednesday, September 25 at 8 p.m. ET.