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Amanda Beard Biography

Trained For Olympics, Captures Three Olympic Medals, Peaked Again, Beard's Impact, Chronology

1981-

American swimmer

Amanda Beard, the youngest swimmer on the 1996 U.S. Olympic team, became a national hero when she captured one gold and two silver medals at the Summer Games in Atlanta. Fans adored the spunky 14-year-old from California, who clutched a lucky teddy bear on the medal stand, and who swam to greatness with a youthful innocence. Although her swimming career slumped just following the 1996 Olympics, Beard made a comeback. After winning a bronze medal in the 200-meter breaststroke at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, Beard won an NCAA championship and again became a top contender in professional women's swimming. In 2002 she broke the American record in the 200-meter breaststroke, and collected several medals in national and international swimming competitions.

Beard was the youngest of three daughters born in Irvine, California. Beard's older sisters, Leah and Taryn, had joined a local swim program, piquing their little sister's interest. When five-year-old Beard told her family she would swim in the Olympics one day, her parents just smiled. "There wasn't exactly a swimming gene pool here," her father, Dan Beard told Leigh Montville of Sports Illustrated. "We weren't setting out to make

Amanda Beard

champions. We just liked the benefits of the sport, the competition, the fact that it makes kids schedule their time, the friendships that it brings." Beard also played soccer and softball, took jazz and tap-dancing lessons, and cared for the family's many pets.

Sketch by Wendy Kagan

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsSwimming