Olympic gold medalist Amanda Beard explains bulimia cutting and personal life tragedies in her new memoir.
She traveled the world, but once back on dry land, Amanda Beard was soon drowning again in her sorrows — and the solutions remained elusive. That’s because her the world champion swimmer’s parents divorced, her bulimia, and her troubled love life. Oh, we forgot to mention the self-mutilation.
“It kind of started off as how I dealt with big issues,” she recounts. “The divorce, I didn’t deal with it. I retreated to the pool, swam and swept the emotions under the rug.” But soon she realized that “Nothing gets solved that way.”
Her new memoir, “In The Water They Can’t See You Cry,” offers details of Beard’s plunge into the deep end of competitive swimming — and the fallout for a teen-ager uncomfortable in the spotlight.
By the end, Beard emerges from her personal whirpool intact and improved, but sparing no details along the way.
“It’s very personal,” Beard says by phone from her Arizona home. “This isn’t something you’re telling a girlfriend over coffee. It’s a very different experience to put it down on paper. It’s very nerve-wracking.”
Why tell-all in the memoir?
“I work with a lot of young female athletes and moms,” she explains. “And I felt like a fake standing up talking about everything in my life without saying that it was a roller coaster of a journey, that I have had hard, dark times.
“There are people going through, or dealing with, the same things. I felt so embarrassed, but I’m now feeling confident about who I am. The things I went through, I’m not ashamed or embarrassed about.”
Beard arrived on the world sporting scene at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, a precocious 14-year-old who carried a teddy bear named Harold while winning two silvers and a gold medal.
By then, her parents were already split up and the sudden attention was crippling for a girl yet to hit puberty. The water became a refuge for Beard, a two-time Olympian before her 21st birthday.
“You’re alone with your thoughts,” she says. “It’s a sanctuary. I don’t meditate. But this was my form of meditation.”
The pool proved only a temporary panacea.