Amanda Beard is hoping to make her fifth U.S.A. Olympic Team this summer, but in the run up to London 2012, the 7-time Olympic medalist is opening up about her emotional past in her new memoir, “In the Water They Can’t See You Cry.”
The memoir details Amanda’s incredible Olympic career, but also, the dark times that included bulimia, cutting and drug use.
“I think it started with my parents’ divorce,” Amanda told Billy Bush and Kit Hoover on Thursday’s Access Hollywood Live. “I didn’t deal with it very well. It happened really right before the [Atlanta] Olympic games and I just swam my heart out and where I put all my emotions was in the pool.”
After scoring medals at the tender age of 14, Amanda came home from Atlanta and said she experienced mixed emotions, “trying to blend in as a normal teenager, going through puberty, then all of a sudden not swimming well and trying to deal with that.”
In her book, Amanda admitted to making herself throw up — on one occasion — seven times in a single day.
“I was wrecking my body a lot. A lot of things I was doing outside of the pool were just awful and very unhealthy,” she said.
“Like what?” Kit asked.
“Like bulimia, I was drinking a lot and doing drugs and just being a college kid, but I’m an elite athlete I can’t live that lifestyle and do that,” Amanda said. “And it started to kind of get to me and all of that, all it does to you is make your situations worse. It doesn’t solve anything… It spiraled and I became very depressed… and that led into cutting and then got caught by my now-husband [Sacha Brown].”
The swimmer said her internal dialogue helped propel the bad behavior.
“It was my way of trying to deal with my emotions in those moments and the negative loop that was going on in my head saying, ‘You’re fat; you’re stupid; you’re washed up; you’re ugly; you’re not worth loving’ — all of these horrible things that were going on and then I would do something like ecstasy and I would feel great… and like I was this great person and then as it wore off, it was even worse.”
Amanda said she eventually reached a point where she knew she had to turn things around.
“After time, it really became clear to me that, ‘OK, something needs to change because I am just living a really unhealthy lifestyle,’” she said.
The athlete is looking ahead to the future, and if a London Olympic berth happens, she’s ready to jump into the pool.
“I have a 2-and-a-half-year-old son. I have zero reason to continue swimming. There’s nothing to prove… I have nothing to prove to people about my swimming, so I want to have fun with it, enjoy it… just have a blast,” she said of the attitude she hopes to take to the summer games.