Trained For Olympics
Beard started swimming for the Colony Red Hots; at age 13 she joined the Irvine Novaquatics. Upon Novaquatics' coach Dave Salo's recommendation, Beard's parents agreed to let their daughter start training full-time in swimming. She would swim five afternoons and three early mornings a week.
Initially, Beard disliked the breaststroke, preferring the vigorous butterfly. But training with Brian Pajer, an Olympic breaststroke finalist, changed her. In January, 1994, she clocked 1:33 in 100 meters; by August, she had pared to 1:15. At age 13, Beard skipped the junior national competition and went straight to the senior nationals, competing in faraway cities. She swam against the country's best at the 1995 Phillips 66 Spring Nationals, finishing third in the 200-meter breaststroke and fifth in the 100-meter breaststroke. Internationally, she swam in the 1995 Pan Pacific Competition, capturing bronze medals in the 100 and 200 breaststroke finals, and a silver in the 400 medley relay. By the following year, at the Olympic trials in Indianapolis in March, Beard sailed to first place in the 100 with 1:08.36, the second-fastest time in women's breaststroke history. At the press conference afterwards, the small, Olympicbound swimmer held the teddy bear.