Born on October 29, 1981 in Irvine, California, American Olympic swimming champion Amanda Beard burst onto the international swimming scene at the young age of 13 at the 1995 Pan Pacific Championships in Atlanta, Georgia. She was a member of the Irvine Novaquatics swim team. At the 1995 Pan Pacs, Beard earned a silver medal as the breaststroker on the 400 medley relay and two bronzes in the 100 breast and 200 breast, respectively. She made her Olympic debut at the 1996 Atlanta Games where she raced to a gold medal as part of the 400 medley relay and two silver medals in the 100 breast and 200 breast as well. Considering her young age–she was the second-youngest swimmer in American history to win an Olympic medal–it is not surprising that her beloved teddy bear accompanied the breathtaking breaststroker throughout these high pressure meets. Beard’s bear watched her race from behind the starting blocks, waited for her next to the warm-down pool, and even joined her on the medal stand. She was soon to become a fixture on the Olympic scene, making the 2000 Olympic team and earning a bronze in the 200 breast at the Sydney Games.
As Beard matured, the teddy bear was less prevalent, but her skills as a world class breaststroker were front-and-center. An integral member of the University of Arizona’s women’s team, Beard earned an NCAA Division 1 national championship in the 100 breast in 2001. In 2003 she became the American record holder and world champion in the 200m breast. Beard would break that record again at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials. She went on to win that same event at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Athens was a particularly good Games for Beard; she also won silver medals in the 200 IM and as part of the 400 medley relay where her 100 breaststroke split would have won her that coveted individual gold medal.
Beard made her fourth Olympic team in 2008. At those Games in Beijing, she finished 18th in the 200 breast, but she did so as co-captain of the women’s team. So, while she may have been disappointed by her performance in the pool at those Games, she undoubtedly had a profoundly positive impact on the younger first-time Olympians in her role as team captain.
Truly a lover of the sport, Beard came out of retirement in 2010, placing second in the 200 breast at the National Championships that year. She joined fellow Olympic veteran Natalie Coughlin as captains of the US National Team and raced the 100 breast and 200 breast at the Pan Pacific Championships in her hometown of Irvine, California. Beard continued training, qualifying for the 2012 US Olympic Trials. However, she did not make what would have been her fifth Olympic team, finishing fifth in the 200 breast at those Trials.
The swimming community has certainly watched Beard grow up both in and out of the pool. Beard successfully forayed her notoriety as a swimmer into a successful modeling and media career. She has been featured in FHM magazine, Sports Illustrated, and Playboy. She was a correspondent on the Fox Network’s “The Best Damn Sports Show Period.”
Beard is a strident protector of animal rights, posing nude in an anti-fur advertisement for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). She is also a vocal spokeswoman for Defenders of Wildlife. Thus, it should come as no surprise that Beard is a vegetarian.
Amanda Beard Memoir
In 2012, Beard published a memoir entitled In The Water They Can’t See You Cry that chronicles her upbringing as an athlete in the public eye. This memoir provides a personal perspective on the teddy-bear-toting teenager who grew into a beautiful model. Beard opens up about her parents divorce when she was 12, her battles with bulimia, the pressure she felt to look picture perfect in a swim suit, bouts of self-mutilation, and struggles with drug use.
Beard’s husband, photographer Sacha Brown, has been a healthy influence in her life, encouraging her to seek therapy for her personal struggles. The couple has two children, a boy named Blaise Ray Brown and a girl named Doona Isla Brown.
Originally developed by Christina Wright.