2024 Rhode Island Aquatic Hall of Fame Inductees

Elizabeth Beisel

Elizabeth was born in Saunderstown, Rhode Island, daughter of Joan Beisel (2018 RIAHOF Inductee) and the late Ted Beisel. She began her swimming career at five years old and later graduated from North Kingstown High School, where she competed for four years and earned the maximum eight individual and multiple relay titles. As the most decorated swimmer to ever come from Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Interscholastic League Hall of Fame inducted Elizabeth in 2022.

Elizabeth competed for the Bluefish Swim Club and was coached by Chuck Batchelor from the age of 12 until she left for college. Elizabeth, a backstroke, and individual medley specialist, went on to earn nine major international medals, including four gold, one silver, and four bronze medals, spanning the Olympics, World Championships, and Pan Pacific Championships. Beisel (her affectionate nickname) made her first National Team at the age of 13, and at 15 was the youngest member of the 2008 Olympic Team.

A three-time Olympian, (2008 in Beijing, 2012 in London, and 2016 in Rio de Janeiro), Elizabeth earned two Olympic Medals and was Captain of the 2016 US Olympic Swim Team.

In NCAA competition, Elizabeth swam for the University of Florida under coach Gregg Troy from 2010 to 2014. While at the University of Florida, Elizabeth won nine Southeastern Conference individual championship titles and was honored as the SEC Female Swimmer of the Year in 2012. In 2012, she won an NCAA individual title in the 200-yard backstroke, and in 2013 won an NCAA individual title in the 400-yard individual medley. In addition, Elizabeth received 18 All-American honors and earned first-team Academic All-American recognition. In 2014, Elizabeth was selected as University of Florida’s Academic Athlete of the Year.

Elizabeth retired from competitive swimming after competing at the 2017 FINA World Championships.

Following retirement, Elizabeth began dedicating her time to philanthropic advocacy within Rhode Island. In 2017, Elizabeth became an ambassador for Save the Bay, a non-profit dedicated to protecting and preserving the waters and coastlines of Rhode Island. She is the first and only woman to win the 2-mile Save the Bay swim from Newport to Jamestown. After losing her late father Ted to cancer in 2021, Elizabeth started her own charity called Block Cancer, which kicked off as a fundraising swim to Block Island. Elizabeth is the first and only woman to date to swim the 12.5 miles to Block Island and raised over $665,000 for cancer research along the way.

In addition to a stellar swimming career and founding Block Cancer, Elizabeth remains heavily involved within the swimming community. She has played a key role in the cultivation of LEAD, an annual summit connecting and mentoring young female athletes with Olympic champions and experts. She is an Ambassador and Board Member of the USA Swimming Foundation. Additionally, Elizabeth authored a book titled “Silver Lining” which details much of her swimming career. Beisel also conducts clinics around the country, working closely with youth in the sport. Elizabeth can often be seen on TV as an ESPN and NBC swimming analyst at high profile events like the NCAA Championships, World Championships, and the Olympic Games.

Elizabeth presently resides in Newport, Rhode Island.

Matthew Emmert

After graduating with a great swimming career from the University of Rhode Island in 2004, Matt coached at the University of Rhode Island, University of Maryland, Texas Christian University and North Kingstown High School, where he coached Olympian and Rhode Island Aquatic Hall of Fame Inductee Eizabeth Beisel. Since 2012 Matt has been the Head Coach of Men’s and Women’s Swimming & Diving programs at Roger Williams University.

During his tenure at Roger Willams, he has coached 170 New England Intercollegiate Swimming & Diving Association (NEISDA) champions, 58 Eastern Collegiate Association Championship (ECAC) qualifiers, 1 NCAA Championship Qualifier and 8 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championship provisional qualifiers. Matt was named both the NEISDA Men’s and Women’s Coach of the Year in 2016 and 2020 and the Men’s coach of the Year is 2017 and 2019. He has led the Men’s team to NEISDA victory in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 and runner-up in 2016. He achieved victory as NEISDA Women’s Team Championship in 2016, 2017, and 2020 and runner-up in 2018 and 2019.

Matt has coached 11 Women’s Scholar All-American Teams, 4 Men’s Scholar All-American Teams, 50 NEISDA Individual Event Champions.

Matt is also the Performance Director for Kingfish, Rhode Island, a United States Swimming club team whose swimmers have performed well here in Rhode Island and New England. Many of his swimmers have continued to swim and succeed at numerous colleges throughout the United States. He is also the founder and Director of Ocean State Swim camp.

Matt resides in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

Bob Hassan

Bob has a very extensive and impressive background in swimming both as a competitor and as a coach. Beginning as a young swimmer, Bob competed in YMCA, AAU, and the Narragansett Swim League excelling in sprint and breaststroke events. He swam as part of several Rhode Island All Star teams and won his share of South-Eastern New England YMCA championships, RI State Age Group championships, and was a RI Interscholastic State Champion. During his Barrington High School years, Bob was a sprinter and breaststroke swimmer, but he was ready and willing to jump into any event where the team needed someone to score. Bob was the first Barrington High School swimmer to earn a varsity letter all four years. As a result of his leadership skills, he was selected as captain of the team during his senior year and helped lead the team to the final nail biting-end at the memorable 1979 state championships.

Bob’s contributions to swimming are even more evident when considering his coaching accomplishments. His dedication to his swimmers is reflected in his history of rebuilding and growing programs. Bob has had much success coaching over the last 3 decades at Barrington YMCA, Barrington High School, East Providence Boys & Girls Club, East Providence High School, Deighton-Rehoboth High School, Bayside YMCA and Rhode Island / Massachusetts Coaches and Officials League (RIMA). He has coached many swimmers who have excelled on various levels locally and nationally – YMCA, high school, Boys & Girls Club, and summer leagues. He has coached several Rhode Island Aquatic Hall of Fame (RIAHOF) inductees.

Ever the teacher and coach, Bob models the importance of civics, engagement, teamwork, integrity and respect to his swimmers and parents, as well as other teams and officials. He is all about giving kids the opportunity to see what they can achieve, helping them realize who they can be, and motivating them to reach their potential and beyond. Bob creates experiences and memories that impact his swimmers not just for a season, but for a lifetime.

As a “connector”, Bob seemingly knows everyone. The adage of there is only six degrees of separation certainly applies to Bob. He can be in Florida, Texas, or Providence and he runs into someone who connects with Bob’s swimming, teaching, or music careers. He has had several swimmers who are children of his former Park View Middle School students or former teammates’ children who were in his classes at school. Bob builds and cares for the communities of swimmers, parents, students, colleagues, teachers, and musicians. Together they are evidence of his success and his reward for a job well done.

Bob joins his sister, Marianne Hassan – (2023) RIAHOF inductee, as a member of our hall of fame.

Laura Sogar

Laura began her swimming career at an early age swimming for the Ram Swim Club at the University of Rhode Island. Upon entering Prout High School in 2006 Laura switched her training to the Blue Fish Team in Attleboro, coached by Chuck Batchelor. As a swimmer, Laura made an immediate impact on Rhode Island Interscholastic League Swimming. She earned her first championship in the 100-yard breaststroke in 2006. She again won the 100- yard breaststroke championship in 2007, 2008, and 2009. She earned Providence Journal Bulletin All-State Honors all four years.

While representing the Blue Fish, Laura competed in the 2008 World Youth Championships, Monterey, Mexico placing third in her breaststroke specialty. Also in 2008, she competed in the US Olympic Trials placing eighth. The following year Laura competed in the Pan Pacific Championship Swim meet in Guam, placing fourth.

Laura qualified again for the United States Olympic Trials in 2012, placing fourth, just missing the opportunity to compete in the Olympics. However, she did compete in the FINA World Championships in 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey earning silver and bronze medals. Again, Laura was a silver and bronze medalist in 2013, this time at the World University Games in Kazan, Russia. It should be known that Laura’s career was not about times and medals. She accomplished so much in her swimming career beyond medals. For Laura, academics, conscientious hard work, discipline, and personal relationships made her chosen sport all encompassing. Likewise, her mom and dad were all encompassing supporting Laura with all the many demands of a competitive swimming career. Lots of faraway practices and swim meets across the country!

Her career at the University of Texas was phenomenal. Under coach Carol Capitani, In 2013 she won the National Championship in the 200-breaststroke with a time of 2:05.41. Laura earned NCAA All American Honors and was named the Big 12 NCAA Swimmer of the Year. Carol Capitani became the head coach of Texas Swimming during Laura’s senior year. Carol, as her collegiate coach, and the well-known and respected Eddy Reese were involved in Laura’s success and the reason why she continued to compete for three more years during her postgraduate career. In 2015 Laura was the Gold Medalist at the United States National Championships.

Laura continues to be an advocate for competitive swimming. Now living her life as a professional comedian Laura has the opportunity through her story telling and jokes to reflect on her career and encourage others to participate in our great sport.

Laura is now living in Brooklyn, New York

Luca Spinazzola

Luca joins fellow South County neighbors Elizabeth and Laura in this year’s class, being one of the greatest swimming names in Rhode Island swimming history. Luca began his career at age six (6) with Rams Swimming Club, followed by Bay & Ocean State Squids, and eventually Bluefish Swim Club. Luca attributes his consistent progress throughout high school and his outstanding senior year to Bluefish Coach Chuck Batchelor. Luca won six Rhode Island Interscholastic League (RIIL) State events while swimming for Narragansett High School including 50, 100, & 500 Free events. He also won the 100 Backstroke, breaking the Interscholastic League State Record with time of 49.7 seconds. His state record still stands to this day, and also stands as a University of Rhode Island pool record. On the USA Swimming circuit Luca competed at Junior Nationals, Nationals, and eventually the Olympic Trials. Luca attended college at the University of Southern California (USC), majoring in engineering, and taking his swimming to new feats. Luca states, “I had a great career swimming at USC, where I made huge improvements under head coach Dave Salo.” In his sophomore year, Luca broke Olympian and former USC alum Lenny Krayzelburg’s 100- yard Backstroke record leading off the 400-yard Medley Relay in 46.36 seconds, lowering it to 45.13 the following year. During the summer seasons, Luca kept in top shape being a dedicated lifeguard at Narragansett Town Beach. He won top honors in RI State Lifeguard Races in the King Neptune competition (swim, paddle, row). Open Water and US Masters swimmers were wowed a few summers in the Narrow River Swim when the young tall guy Luca from Narraganset and USC came back to win his home open water swim. Finishing his USC swimming career, Luca netted 7 All American Swims at NCAA’s. Following graduating from USC, Luca continued to swim professionally representing the Trojan Swim Club while working as a software Engineer in Los Angeles. In 2017 he qualified for the Italian National Swim Team in the 50 SCM Backstroke and represented Italy at European Short Course Swimming Championships. Luca holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and computer engineering and a master’s degree in computer science. Luca lives in Narragansett and is an entrepreneur focusing on his company Eqoty Labs. Luca’s Mom Judy put it best, “Luca remains a lifelong athlete, and an avid surfer, striking a balanced blend of prowess in both the digital & aquatic worlds.”

Gary Spremullo

Gary began swimming at McDermott Pool in Warwick at the age of nine under the instruction of Bob Metcalf of the Little Rhody Aquatic Club. Recognizing Gary’s rapid progression, Bob suggested that he attend the Little Rhody Aquatic Club at Brown University which he did until his freshman year in high school. At Little Rhody Gary was coached by Ken Reall, John O’Neill, Paul Mangili, and Dan Reinhardt. During his high school years Gary swam at the East Providence Boys Club under the tutelage of Kevin Salsibury.

Gary at age twelve started playing water polo for the Little Rhody Polo Club coached by Ed Reed, where again he progressed rapidly in the sport. Playing year round against high school teams and prep schools throughout the northeast as well as numerous tournaments in the Eastern Water Polo League Gary experienced not only playing other teams with high school age players but competing against teams with college age players as well as adult players.

Gary was invited to attend the USA Water Polo National Development Camp at the Olympic Training center, Colorado Springs, Colorado, when he was thirteen years old. In total he was a five time attendee at this camp from the age of thirteen through the age of seventeen. He received the Most Valuable Player Award during his final year at the camp.

During the 1990-1993 season Gary was named to the USA Water Polo Zone 1 All Star Team. As a sophomore, junior, and senior in high school he was a USA Water Polo Junior Olympian as both a player and goalie. Attending the first two of these events, he, however, declined to attend the third because his senior year commitment to the Bishop Hendricken High School Swim Team.

While at Hendricken, Gary swimming with Hall of Famers Chris Holt, William Fitzpatrick, Ed Vilandrie, and Tony Fonseca led Hendricken to four consecutive State Championships. During his senior year he was the only swimmer in Rhode Island to be named to the All-State Team in four events. Gary was State Champion in the 100-yard butterfly, 100-yard backstroke, and both the 200-yard medley relay and the 400-yard freestyle relay. In addition, he broke the fifteen-year-old record in the 100-yard backstroke with his performance in the State Championship meet. His time of 53.29 earned him All-American consideration, a rarity in Rhode Island swimming. Gary was voted the Outstanding Senior Swimmer and the Rhode Island Swimmer of the Year by the members of the Rhode Island Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association. He also earned the Paul McDermott Award presented to the outstanding senior athlete at Bishop Hendricken as well as the Warwick Beacon Male athlete of the Year.

Gary attended the University of Massachusetts where he swam and played water polo. He presently works at Kent Hospital in the Sterile Processing Department, where he has been employed for the past eleven years.