Amanda Beard, swimming sensation who became an Olympic medalist at 14, is now a proud mother, but her life has not been without struggle. According to SFGate, Amanda is at peace after years of depression, bulimia, drug abuse, and toxic relationships with men.
Beard kept her troubles hidden many times, behind the mask of a smile, while she poured all her pain into the pool. But even that was not much a refuge, after she burst onto burt onto the scene at 14, winning two silver medals in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. The young athlete hit puberty right after, where she gained 6 inches and 30 pounds. Although this is normal for most girls, it was devastating for a swimmer. Her body change slowed her down, and the crowds whispered of disappointment.
Amanda Beard released her memoir this week, “In Water They Can’t See You Cry.” She retraces her struggles since her parent’s divorce, when she was twelve. Her mother moved out, and her siblings had already left home. Amanda and her father did not often talk about their feelings in their mostly empty home. She describes the snowball effect from the divorce, the pressure she put on herself after the 1996 Olympics, and her refusal to deal with puberty and the changes thrust upon her.
Amanda started drinking in high school, feeling ugly and socially awkward. She struggled academically, with mild dyslexia, which sent her into tears almost daily. Swimming was the only thing she excelled at, and she managed to earn a college scholarship, even after taking 5 months off. In college, her bulimia began. She vomited seven times a day, despite her fears of serious bodily harm. ”The fear wasn’t as powerful as the benefits of purging,” she writes.
As a freshman, she began a volatile relationship with a South African swimmer. They often had “loud, screaming fights,” and she began cutting herself to endure the internal pain. ”I wasn’t trying to kill myself, I was just trying to figure out how to live in a bad relationship,” she writes.
Beard became a professional swimmer, surpassing the talents of her boyfriend. He refused to accept her success, despite the fact that her swimming career supported him. She describes a two-month visit to his family in South Africa, speckled with the use of ecstasy, cocaine, and LSD as she hoped to gain the attention and approval she so desperately needed from her boyfriend. Unable to do so, she returned to the United States.
After her return to the US, she became involved with NASCAR driver, Carl Edwards. She paints a jealous and controlling relationship in the memoir. While their sex life sizzled, she felt their relationship was “one-way” because she followed him around from race to race while he barely acknowledged what was happening in her life. The memoir also details several other famous relationships she became involved in.
Amanda Beard was inspired to continue swimming, while she watched Dale Jarrett and Mark Martin winning races at 40. She made her fourth Olympic team in 2008, at 28. She posed for various magazines, including Playboy in 2007. She fell in love with photographer Sacha Brown.
When the couple moved in together, Brown realized Amanda’s precarious state, as he witnessed he cutting herself and smashing things in rage. Brown confronted his beloved, encouraging her to seek treatment. She now feels that Sacha Brown is her knight in shining armor. He stood by her, despite her problems, giving her the support she needed to heal. They are now married, with a 2-year-old.
Amanda feels like sharing her story has made her realize that we are never truly alone in our problems, and she hopes that others will read hr story ands realize this very thing, as well. She hopes her story will inspire others to seek help for their problems, letting them know that recovery is possible. Amanda Beard is currently training again, and hopes to make her fifth Olympic team soon.