Seven-time Olympic medalist Amanda Beard is reportedly headed back to Tucson to become an assistant coach at the University of Arizona, where she won an NCAA title 22 years ago. But sources say her hire hasn’t been officially announced yet while Arizona looks into whether she finished her undergraduate degree, and whether that is in line with the school’s hiring policies.
The four-time Olympian has been running a learn-to-swim company called Beard Swim Co. in Gig Harbor, Washington, since 2017. The 41-year-old Beard is one of the most accomplished breaststrokers in the history of the sport.
At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, she became the second-youngest swimmer in American history to win an Olympic medal when she earned gold in the 400 medley relay and two silvers in the 100 breast and 200 breast at just 14 years old. Beard added bronze in the 200 breast at the 2000 Sydney Olympics as well as gold in the 200 breast and silver in the 200 IM at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
She swam for Arizona from 1999-2001, capping her brief NCAA career with a national title in the 100 breast in 2001. In 2003, she set an American record and won a world title in the 200 breast before breaking the world record (2:22.44) the following year.
Beard was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2018. With seven medals across four Games, she is the most decorated Olympian in Arizona school history. As her competitive career was winding down, she released her 2012 memoir “In The Water They Can’t See You Cry,” which detailed her past struggles with depression, bulimia, and substance abuse.
The addition of Beard means that all three of Arizona’s assistant coaches under head coach Augie Busch have ties to his dad, Frank Busch, who coached the Wildcats from 1989-2011. Beard swam for the elder Busch from 1999-2001, assistant coach Lara Jackson swam for him from 2005-09, and Roric Fink was an assistant on his staff from 2003-10. Jackson was hired in 2021, and Fink returned to Tucson last year.
Arizona still has another opening on its coaching staff after both Anna Heller and Clif Robbins left the program in April.
The Arizona men finished 4th out of six teams at February’s Pac-12 Championships while the women placed 6th out of eight teams.