Amanda Beard opens up

Irvine Scene

Olympic swimmer, an Irvine native, reveals dark secrets in autobiography.

April 07, 2012|By Joe Haakenson, Special to the Daily Pilot
(Courtesy of Simon…)

There might not be a better athlete to come from Irvine than Amanda Beard, not when you consider her accomplishments in the pool.

Beard is a four-time Olympian, first going as a fresh-faced 14-year-old in 1996, and following that up by swimming in the Olympic Games in 2000, 2004 and 2008. She won seven Olympic medals, including two gold, four silver and one bronze.

A former world record holder in the 200-meter breaststroke, Beard's list of successes in the pool over the past 20 years or so is long and impressive.

She turned her swimming prowess into a successful modeling career, a natural transition for the blue-eyed Southern California native. It was a perfect life, or so it seemed.

Beard had deep, dark secrets. And now, after living a lifetime of ups and downs in her 30 years, she is sharing it all in her book, "in the water they can't see you cry." The book, published by Simon & Schuster and co-written with Rebecca Paley, is available in bookstores now.


Beard has begun a book-signing tour that will take her all over the country, including two stops in Southern California — at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena on Wednesday, and at Barnes and Noble in Santa Monica on Thursday.

She's excited about her latest endeavor, and a little bit anxious, not knowing quite what to expect. But it pales in comparison to what she went through in her teens and early 20s.

Beard suffered from clinical depression which resulted in self-destructive behavior. She became bulimic, she abused drugs and alcohol and she cut herself.

She writes in great detail about what she went through, even beginning the book with one particular instance of cutting when she went too deep into her arm and worried she might bleed to death:

How did I get to this point? I was a three-time Olympic swimmer and world record holder who had appeared on the cover of national magazines in skimpy bathing suits that made everyone think I had all the confidence in the world. I made money in a sport where no one makes any. I owned my home and paid my own bills. Lots of Americans who didn't know anything about swimming knew my name and the face under the goggles. I also had a wonderful boyfriend, who made me feel like the sexiest, smartest, most important woman in the world. And yet I was miserable to the point of this. Bleeding and broken on the bathroom floor. I felt embarrassed and ashamed. Why was I such a loser?

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