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Olympic party in Newport

A group of U.S. Olympic champions and hopefuls celebrate 100-day countdown to London Games.

April 18, 2012|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
  • Swimmers Jason Lezak, left, and Amanda Beard, right, both seven-time Olympic medalists, are introduced during a 100-day countdown celebration for the London Olympics in Newport Beach Wednesday.
Swimmers Jason Lezak, left, and Amanda Beard, right,… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

NEWPORT BEACH — Outside the Bayview Corporate Center, a poster hung with the letters "USA" on top and five Olympic rings below it, with the words, "ROAD TO LONDON."

Two men dressed in British guard uniforms stood near the entrance.

Inside the building on Wednesday, 15 U.S. Olympic champions and hopefuls celebrated the 100-day countdown to the London Games.

Two of the biggest names, swimmers Amanda Beard and Jason Lezak, led the way during a VIP event put together by the U.S. Olympic Committee and DISC Sports & Spine Center benefiting the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams.

Beard and Lezak are both seven-time Olympic medalists and close friends.

The two grew up in Irvine. Beard went to Irvine High with Lezak's wife, Danielle. She wasn't at the event, because Lezak said they couldn't find a babysitter for their two children.

With no kids around, Lezak, 36, was happy to have the spotlight on him.

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"It's turning out to be pretty good so far," Lezak joked. "I mean nobody wants to talk to me yet, so I'm pretty happy now that somebody does."

Beard has been the one getting all the attention since the release of her new book, "In the Water They Can't See You Cry."

The book has hit the New York Times Best Sellers List. Beard opened up in the memoir. The four-time Olympian revealed her struggles with bulimia, depression, drugs and alcohol, and how she used to cut herself.

"It's been really positive," Beard said of the feedback she's received from the book. "Everyone that's read the book has enjoyed it and [taken] away the positive message that I was hoping that they would. The people that I have been able to meet me along my book tour at all my book signings have been amazing, carrying everybody's personal struggles and the connections, and the similarities have just been overwhelmingly positive."

Beard didn't want to discus the book after that, a spokesperson with the U.S. Olympic Committee cut off the interview.

The former world record holder in the 200-meter breaststroke has her eyes set on reaching the London Games.

One Olympian who was willing to talk at length was a snowboarder, who isn't even competing this summer.

Nate Holland, who just returned from Alaska, was happy to be in Orange County. His next Olympic Games are two years away in Russia.

"I just finished my winter up three days ago, so it's nice to be down [here] and kind of defrosting my bones from the winter," Holland said. "It's nice to be in sunny weather and being 100 days out from the Olympic Games. I feel the excitement. It is fun to come down here and talk to some of the other [summer] athletes and feel their excitement and nervousness. I'm attracted to it, so I like being around that sort of atmosphere."

david.carrillo@latimes.com

Twitter: @DCPenaloza

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