AMANDA BEARD has been a genuine phenomenon since she broke on to the World’s biggest stage at age 14, winning 3 swimming medals for Team USA at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games.
But Amanda’s superstardom has moved far beyond the springboard of competitive swimming into the even wider world of celebrity. Amanda’s fans far more than they have ever seen poolside of her on the cover of the July 2007 issue of PLAYBOY MAGAZINE.
Amanda is one of the most sought after models in the Olympic World, resulting in a full-time career on top of her demanding Olympic training regimen. Beard was also featured in the 2006 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, as well as on the covers of FHM, STUFF, and OUTSIDE Magazines. In fact, Amanda was the most downloaded female athlete on the Internet for 3 months in a row in 2004, surpassing even Anna Kournikova.
With her limitless energy and drive, Amanda intends to create a licensing empire: the Amanda Beard Signature Collection, which will include apparel, bedding, home furnishing, fragrance and many other products. Named “Worlds Sexiest Athlete” by FHM Magazine, Amanda’s long term plans also include expanding her burgeoning TV hosting career. To give back to a world that has given so much to her, Amanda provides her free time to inspire young swimmers throughout the United States to overcome obstacles and set high goals for themselves.
Amanda currently resides in Southern California where she continues to train for the July 2008 US Olympic Trials, hoping to swim on her 4th Olympic Team in Beijing, China. Amanda’s out of water interests include motorcycle riding, paintballing, surfing, playing with her three dogs and spending time with family and friends.
JC: With your goal to complete in the 08 Olympics coming up, can you give us a little idea what the qualification process might be?
AB: Well, we have our Olympic trials, which are prior to the actual Olympic Games. You have to get First or Second in your event to qualify for the Olympic teams. So basically, you have to be first or second in the United States in your event to be on the Olympic team. It’s a pretty stressful 8 day long swim meet, that will be held in Omaha Nebraska next July and hopefully everything goes well and then you get to go to Beijing.
JC: Of the 8 days, do you compete every single day?
AB: No, you don’t. You have preliminaries, a semifinal and a final. If everything goes well, you compete three times in your event. So for the semi-finals, there are 16 people, the top 16 people from the prelims. From there, they take 8 people to the finals. I usually only swim 2 or 3 events; the 100 breast stroke, the 200 breast stroke and the 200 individual medley. So on Monday, I will swim the prelims for the 100 breast stroke, and that evening I will swim the semi finals for the 100 breast stroke nd the following day on Tuesday evening, I will swim the finals for the 100 breast stroke. That takes about two days. So with me doing 3 events, it will take about 6 days for me to do, so I get 2 days off thrown in.
JC: Well that’s nice; they give you some time off then.
AB: Isn’t it?
JC: How is your training going so far?
AB: It’s going really well actually; I just hired a new personal trainer. I actually just worked out with him, we just finished about twenty minutes ago. We started doing thinning and yoga, and swimming, all the time.
JC Do you do a lot of cross training or is it something you are starting now and supplementing a bit?
AB: I’ve always done cross training; I am just trying to structure it more. I used to mountain bike, do all that kind of stuff, but when it gets close to the actual Olympics, I do different things so that I won’t injure myself. So mountain biking, it would be real easy for me to break an arm, so I kind of have to calm it down. With my trainer, we box a lot and do a lot of core strength; working with physio-balls and medicine balls and things like that. I don’t think I will be hurting myself in Yoga, hopefully not.
JC: Are you in the pool a lot at this point, or is that down the road?
AB: I swim every morning between two and three hours. My day usually consists of something where I will swim in the morning for about two hours, I come home and work with my trainer for about an hour and half, and then that evening, I will do spinning or Yoga.
JC: That’s a busy schedule.
AB: It keeps my day pretty full.
JC: With the mental preparation, since you’ve competed in so many Olympics before, does that give you an edge going into the Olympic trials?
AB: It definitely helps, knowing what to expect. The Olympic trials are very emotional meets because its 4 years of training and you see people crying, you see people celebrating, it’s a lot of mixed emotions, and that’s hard to deal with. When you see friends upset, or celebrating, you have to be able to shrug those things off, and focus on yourself and your events and know what to do. It’s hard, but I feel I have an edge in that area.
JC: Do you have competitors you know that you are going to go head to head against?
AB: There is definitely a good amount of strong swimmers in the United States. One of my main competitors, I actually trained with. That’s actually pretty fun. We push each other every single day and then that’s another US swimmer that I just try not to think about very much. That’s what I think about when I am boxing.
JC: With the trials beginning in July, is there a transition for training where you have to notch it up right before, or do you taper off before you go into the trials themselves?
AB: Usually, about Christmas time, and for about 4 months after, that’s going to be my most intense training. Then, after that it won’t drop off until about two weeks before the Olympic trials. That’s when I will start tapering off and resting.
JC: That’s interesting that your hardest part of training is at Christmas, which is 7 months ahead of when you are going to compete for trials. Do you go into maintenance mode between then and July?
AB: Yeah, it stays pretty high, but you don’t want to keep up doing something so intense and risk having injuries, especially injuries that you can’t heal quickly enough before trials. Getting a lot of swimming under your belt before you start doing maintenance. Preparing your stroke technique, staying healthy, injury free, staying tight, muscular, all that fun stuff.
JC: The games follow pretty quickly after the trials, so your training for the trials would naturally overlap into your training for the Olympics.
AB: What we usually do, after the Olympic trials, you’ve made the team, and you go to training camp immediately after. Say you are in the training camp for about three weeks, getting your butt kicked all over again. It’s like a compressed year in those three weeks. You get a year’s worth of training in three weeks, and begin tapering for about two weeks.
JC: Do they let you bring your own trainer, or is it the Olympic trainer?
AB: Usually it’s the Olympic trainers, but I think you can bring your own personal trainer. They don’t have the best coaches, like the Olympic trainers have, but I love having my personal trainer with me. It’s nice having familiar faces around. We will see how things go.
JC: Good luck with that. Now with the training for Beijing, do you have to adapt for the change in climate or altitude? Do you take that into consideration?
AB: Definitely. A lot of people do altitude training. I don’t. I see the benefits, but I want to stay home and be in a familiar place. Those things are important to me. We fly to where ever the Olympics are a couple weeks in advance to get accustomed to the air quality and the heat, and anything else you deal with. I think I benefit training in LA, you know; you get that poor air quality, the hot days.
JC: Especially recently.
AB: Yeah, its been a little smoky. That’s good training.
JC: Changing the subject a little bit here, I was surprised, I guess a couple weeks ago, I picked up the USA Today and saw your name as being announced as one of the new Godaddy.com girls. How did that happen?
AB: It all happened really quickly actually. They expressed an interest in me joining their team, so we started talking to them and developed a relationship with them. Now, they are one of my main sponsors. Its funny, they really take care of me. Everyone with Godaddy.com is so sweet. Bob Parsons, the CEO is the biggest sweetheart. He rides a motorcycle, and I ride a motorcycle, so we just talk motorcycles together. He sent me a huge bouquet of flowers for my Birthday. Its fun to make those great relationships, business relationships like that, they are just lovely caring people.
JC: You mentioned motorcycles; I know you like to ride. What do you like to ride?
AB: I have a Ducati Monster.
JC: Very nice
AB: Do you ride?
JC: I do
AB: Oh really, what do you have?
JC: It’s a Harley, but it’s a ‘03 Springer, a little different bike then a Ducati.
AB: Yes, you ride feet first, and I ride head first.
JC: So when you train, do you ride or do you struggle to get away from it?
AB: I do, but actually, I have given up all of my extra curricular activities for this. This summer was the last time I got to do all my fun stuff. Right now, I am not riding, but as soon as the summer is over, I am going to jump on my bike and ride. I am kind of drooling at the mouth when I see all of my friends going on long rides.
JC: Well, I can imagine. LA is such a great place to ride with all the canyons.
AB: I don’t think you can ride anywhere right now with all the fires.
JC: I know your modeling career must be going full tilt at this point. Back in July, you were featured in Playboy. Has the buzz around your pictorial subsided at all, or is it still going
AB: Yes and no. I think a lot of people like to bring it up and talk about it, because they think it’s kind of different and unusual for the swimming scene, and so they like to make it a hot topic. But those types of things people get all twisted up about, next month there is a new cover out, a new person who everyone is all anxious over. It definitely has calmed down a bit which is good, it lets me concentrate on my training, but it has brought me a lot of good things.
JC: So you consider it a positive experience?
AB: It was great. I had a blast doing it. I have been at the Playboy Mansion a bunch. Hef is a huge sweetheart. All of his girlfriends are adorable. All of that stuff, I love. I love being around people that are smart and just extremely sweet.
JC: Was that the first time they approached you?
AB: No, they’ve approached a couple times. It was the first time I felt personally ready to do that, and I felt I would have a lot of fun doing it. The other times I was approached, I felt I was too young. I had to get comfortable with who I was.
JC: That’s fair enough. I know I have seen you on the cover of FHM quite a bit also. How did it feel when they deemed you to be the Worlds Sexiest Athlete?
AB: I thought it as funny. I don’t know, I guess it’s extremely flattering. Its fun, I guess you have to take advantage of all the nice comments while they are coming in. One day, I’ll be an old grandma showing off those covers.
JC: You are pretty well rounded at this point. I understand you are going to be adding Sports Correspondent to your resume, if you haven’t already with Fox’s Best Damn Sports Show.
AB: I’ve done two pieces for them so far. I have a bunch more that I will be doing. It’s so much fun. I love being around sports and athletes, I love learning everything about it. I love all of those guys on the show, its one of my favorite sport shows to watch. It’s just a different feel, it’s not so newsy. So I definitely approached them. I told them it was my dream to work for them, that whatever I could do. I would start at the bottom of the barrel. I wanted to work with the best damn sports show. So they gave me the opportunity.
JC: What have you done so far for them?
AB: So far, I filmed an event in Austin, TX with the Red bull “Flutog” – where they launch flying contraptions off of a ramp and see how far they fly.
AB: It’s really entertaining. Not too long ago, I did an event where I went out to the Irwindale track and filmed drifting.
JC: That should have been fun
AB: It was totally fun. I jumped in one of the cars and got a ride around the track. It was a blast.
JC: Did you try to drift at all?
AB: No, I personally have not tried. But in a car a bunch of times when people have done it.
JC: Any big sporting events you are looking forward to that you definitely want to cover for the Best Damn Sports Show?
AB: It’s pretty cool. They are going to take me to the Daytona 500 and the Super bowl. I will be covering both of those events. That’s going to be a blast. They definitely want to use me for the more extreme sports, water sports and things like that, which I know really well, and leave John Sally and all those boys up to baseball, basketball, football.
JC: Well, it looks like a real fun show.
AB: Yeah, it is. So far, so good.
JC: I see you also have served as a spokesperson for the Defenders of Wildlife. We can hear your dogs in the background.
AB: Yeah, they are chasing the squirrels.
JC: How did you get involved with the organization?
AB: I got involved a while ago, recently I’ve been doing work for a different group called “Wild Aid”, I have been working with them, and actually filmed a PSA which should be released pretty soon, about saving Sharks. I absolutely love and adore animals, I felt like to give all of those types of things, you really have to be passionate about them, animals are definitely something I have a passion for.
JC: And Wild Aid, in particular, you said you filmed something for sharks. Well, I realized they are being overfished, and that type of thing. Does Wild Aid deal with just sharks or other animals as well?
AB: They are involved with lots of different animals. I am personally dealing with Sharks. Like you said, over fishing, and trying to get rid of Shark Fin Soup, things like that. I think the Beijing Olympics are a huge thing, and in China, they eat Shark Fin Soup, so we really want to strike there real hard. Since I am a swimmer, and I love sharks, I was swimming around with sharks and it all kind of meshed really well.
JC: Okay, if we flash back again to your previous Olympic experience, you have been basically a household name since the age of fourteen. What were some of the positive and negative sides to such celebrity status at that age?
AB: You know, it’s funny because it’s a lot of fun but, at the same time, you are not living a normal childhood. You don’t get to do all the things that your high school friends are doing. You are in the spotlight, going through all those really awkward situations that you go through. Going through puberty, dating, and different social pressures. Being in high school is hard enough as it is. I know that looking back, I am really blessed and lucky for all the things that I went through, and I got to do, but I mean I had to grow up and be an adult by the age of 12. I was flying to Japan by myself by the time I was 13. I kind of lost a lot being just a stupid little kid. I just grew up and was thrust into an adult world. This is great, because it really has prepared me for later on in my life. Looking back, you loose a lot of your high school life.
JC: At what age did you start competing in Swimming?
AB: I started competing in swimming when I was 4 years old, and at that time I was pretty serious about it, but I was playing other sports as well. I started to completely devote my time to swimming when I was 10.
JC: And how did you realize that your specialty would be the breast stroke?
AB: Because I suck at it. I had an illegal breast stroke kick. I was disqualified all the time. My coach would become frustrated, and would make me stay after everyday, practicing, until it was a legal kick. Where I wouldn’t get disqualified, and somehow, I was a hidden breaststroker in disguise. I was a butterflier until the age of 12 or so, then all of a sudden.
JC: That’s interesting. I was under the impression from various swimmers I had a chance to speak with, that you know what stroke you are going to go after. For you, it was sort of opposite; you were actually a butterfly person prior to that.
AB: I know, I am glad I figured it out, that I am not really a butterflier. The butterfly is not that good now.
JC: Well, you’ve had so many accomplishments in your swimming career, now that we’ve gone through your resume here, you are everywhere. What do you think had a greater impact on your swimming career? The natural talent or your internal desire to succeed?
AB: Well, I have to say that I feel like I am a very athletic person, so definitely having that helped. But I have seen a lot of really talented athletes and swimmers who don’t have that desire and drive not make it. Simply because of that. I definitely feel it’s a great combination, but talent is only going to take you so far. Mentally, you have to be able to turn the switch off and not feel the pain anymore. Push yourself beyond thosebarriers and just really want it and crave it. Be able to give up anything else in your life for it. Talent helps, but you don’t make it all the way on talent.
JC: Wheredoesthe desire come from?
AB: My dad was a very athletic person, so we played tons of sports when I was younger and I don’t know what it is, but I am competitive in absolutely everything I do. I am the worst person to play board games with. I get pissed. I hate when people cheat, I am the moodiest person when I lose. It always hits me, and my dad is the same way. I definitely think it was passed down from him. We used to go play basketball everyday, and we’d be pushing each other down and stuff. We are both very competitive people.
JC: Pushing each other down, very good. That’s great. Have you had anything along the way you would consider interferences to your career? Schooling, anything you have had to overcome?
AB: I love doing other sports, so in a way, that’s good. I stay fresh, but I get injured playing other sports. Like, snowboarding, I have broken my arm snowboarding. The last thing I want to do is lay down the dirt bike or the motorcycle and have a worse injury. Luckily, I think I have done a pretty good job of not having too many hiccups in my life, where its been like, months or years of just like, awfulness and hating swimming and this and that. With a couple little injuries here and there, it’s been pretty good.
JC: I can’t let you get away without asking about the 96 Olympics. One of the most famous images was you clinging on the stuffed bear. What ever happened to Harold the Bear?
AB: He is at my dad’s house in my old bedroom in the closet.
JC: So he is doing well, but he is in the closet.
AB: He is alive, but he is hidden. He’ll only emerge again maybe next summer.
JC: I had an opportunity to see a clip of on David Letterman, and you said how your house high schoolmates had kidnapped Harold the bear. I thought that was pretty funny.
AB: I had Polaroid pictures sent to me, for ransom. I wish I had saved them, I don’t know where they went. It was hilarious.
JC: It sounds pretty funny. Amanda, after the Olympics in Beijing, and we hope everything goes well for you, how soon after the Olympics will you start to think about your future goals?
AB: I am actually thinking about them right now. The thing is, I was starting to tell people that whatever happens next summer, whether I make the Olympic team, I think I want to keep swimming until 2012. I will only be 30 in 2012, I won’t be that old. As long as I love it, I am going to keep doing it. Personally, I want to expand my career, with TV, with the Best Damn Sport Show. Hopefully it creates more opportunity and creates more time for them.
JC: So you think it’s a definite thought that you are going to compete in London?
AB: I always think, this summer will be my last chance, my last try. But I have so much fun with it. It’s a really good job. I get to work out, travel and have a lot of fun. I really enjoy swimming and training, so I don’t want to quit. It’s too fun. A desk job isn’t for me.
JC: With all the discipline you have to apply to training, travel, watching your diet and cross training, do you think there is a direct benefit to swimming that will aid you in future careers?
AB: Definitely, competing in sports, especially when you are younger, you become more disciplined. You wake up at 5am, you work out, you go to school, you do your job, you go back to work out. You learn to juggle a real complex schedule; how to be committed to something and passionate about something, which usually transfers into other things that you do. Not just swimming, or another sport, but into your job or your family life, or things like that. Hopefully, my kids will want to be athletic, because we are going to have problems if they aren’t.