Q&A: Amanda Beard
Olympic Swimmer and Owner of Beard Swim Co.
By Marguerite Cleveland
Photos By Sam Tillman
Amanda Beard has always loved to swim. Her athletic ability led to her first appearance at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 2004 at the age of 14. Amanda went on to compete three more times racking up seven Olympic career medals; two gold, four silver and one bronze. In addition to her athletic achievements, her healthy image has made her a sought-after model, brand representative as well as a guest and host on national television shows. She has now turned her love of swimming into her own company, Beard Swim Co., which allows her to bring her love of swimming to new generations. In what would be a bucket-list item for any swimmer aspiring to the Olympics, the company offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be coached by world champion, former world record holder and four-time Olympian and seven-time Olympic medalist Amanda Beard. How cool is that?
Q. You have launched your own company, Beard Swim Co., which teaches children how to swim. Why is it so important for children to have this skill?
A. Swimming is a wonderful hobby and fun to do but, more importantly, it is a life skill and a necessity for all ages. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in children 14 years and younger. Research shows that formal year-round swim lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent. I love being able to pass on the gift that can save lives but also provide recreation and leisure for the rest of that person’s life. Swim lessons open so many aquatic doors for them besides just swimming in a pool. For example, you need to be a decent swimmer to enjoy kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, water skiing, and the list goes on and on.
Q. In your book, “In the Water They Can't See You Cry,” you share some very personal experiences. What prompted you to write this book and how has it touched those with similar stories?
A. I was traveling the world working with young athletes, and I was encountering so many athletes like myself who were struggling in their sport and struggling with who they were. I felt it was my duty to show them that it’s OK to fall down and struggle to get back up. I wanted them to know that they were not alone in their journey and that they should never be ashamed of who they are or the feelings that they are having.
Q. The Puget Sound is known for its frigid waters. What is your favorite place to swim in the Pacific Northwest?
A. My three favorite places to swim are Sunrise Beach in Gig Harbor, Mason Lake and Hood Canal. All are completely different and absolutely gorgeous. I learned how to water ski when I was little at Cromwell Beach in Gig Harbor in the chilly water and loved every second of it.
Q. After years and years of swimming and tons of laps, what keeps you going back to the pool?
A. I am a fish out of water when I am on dry land. I love being near the water whether it’s a pool, lake or beach. Nothing makes me happier than being in the water. I know for some, lap swimming may seem boring, but it’s one of the only activities left that you can find complete peace by letting go of all the external stresses. When you are in the water it’s just you and the water; no talking, no music, no distractions.
Q. You are launching a nonprofit called Vitamin Swim. Would you care to give our readers a sneak peek into your next endeavor?
A. We are just about to launch our nonprofit, Vitamin Swim, which will offer scholarships for kids to take swim lessons at our facility and to continue to advocate for and share the positive benefits of enrolling your children into swim lessons at a young age. People will be able to donate to Vitamin Swim to help more kids attain swim lessons, and we are very excited about that.