Amanda Beard takes aim at Olympics after lifetime of battles

Apr 11 2012 - 6:51pm

Olympian. Recovering addict. Wife, mother, model.

Now, Amanda Beard can also call herself an author.Beard, who first gained fame as a 14-year-old gold-medal winning swimmer in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, opened up to the world in her new memoir, "In the Water They Can't See you Cry," co-written by Rebecca Paley.

At a recent book signing in Huntington, N.Y., Beard, 30, revealed to an audience that the tell-all was an attempt to reveal the hardships she faced as a teen and young adult.

"I told (Paley), we're gonna put it all out there and I'm gonna be as honest as I can possibly be about what I was doing and the situations and the emotions I was feeling," Beard said.

The "situations" Beard referenced included cutting herself, battling bulimia, and drug and alcohol abuse. She attributed the troublesome times to being forced to balance a teenage life with the growing stardom that came as an elite athlete.

"I had this loop going on in my head -- 'You're stupid, you're ugly, you're fat' -- and it really affected me," Beard said.

The intelligent, attractive and athletic Beard was eventually diagnosed with depression after her downward spiral. She has since recovered, and is married to photographer Sacha Brown. The two had a son, Blaise, in 2009, and whenever he's brought up, Beard's face brightens.

"He's the coolest thing in the world," Beard said, adding that his birth was a turning point in her life. "Just to see his face and his smile; things really made me realize how not important all the small stuff that I used to stress about (was); you know, gaining weight or how I looked ... I have this gorgeous son who my stresses are now about."

Even with a young son at home, Beard is still determined to excel in the pool.

"Now, I want to go to the weight room, and condition, and just really go for it," Beard said. "Leave it all at the pool and at the weight room, so when I come home, I know I accomplished something. You know, make it worth leaving (Blaise) for two to three hours at a time."

The 2012 Olympic trials are in June, and Beard hopes that her rigorous training and absence from her son is worth it. Should she make the team, it would be Beard's fifth Olympics. She has seven Olympic medals, including golds in the women's 4-x-100-meter medley relay in 1996 (Atlanta) and in the individual 200-meter breaststroke in 2004 (Athens).

Beard said the reaction to her book has been positive.

"I have had a lot of people come up to me who have already read the book; They're like, 'I read it in one sitting, I loved it,' " Beard said. "You know that they have dealt with the same things that I was dealing with and it's so great to hear someone out and talk about these things.

She said fans appreciate that Beard is not "embarrassed to stand up and be like, 'Hey, these things happened to me but this is where I am today, and this was my journey.' " Added Beard, "I hope that people can pick up this book -- especially women, fathers who have daughters and athletes -- read it, and know that I tried to be honest ... and can respect that."

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