Seven-time Olympic medalist Amanda Beard hopes to compete in swimming at the London Olympics this summer

Seven-time Olympic medalist Amanda Beard hopes to compete in swimming at the London Olympics this summer (Aqua Sphere, Tim Mantoani/Tribune Media Services / March 28, 2012)

Swimmer Amanda Beard won her first Olympic gold medal in 1996 at the summer games in Atlanta. Now 30, the swimming champion — who has won seven medals at the Olympics — is hoping to bring home more gold for the United States in her fifth consecutive Olympiad this summer in London.

Beard, who also has a successful sideline career as a model (including a nude spread in Playboy), recently penned "In the Water They Can't See You Cry" (Touchstone, $24.99). The revealing memoir gives readers a look at the struggles she faced with bulimia, learning disorders and broken relationships.

Beard lives in Tucson, Ariz., with her husband, photographer Sacha Brown, and their toddler son, Blaise. To read more about Beard, check out her website at

Q. You've traveled the world for swimming. Which places stand out?

A. My favorite cities have been Monte Carlo, Rome and Capetown. I love that swimming has allowed me to travel to so many destinations. As I grew older, I would extend my stay after my meets so I would be able to see more than just the pool and the hotel.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. Wakatobi (an archipelago in the Banda Sea off the coast of Indonesia). My husband and I actually got married there. It's a huge scuba-diving destination and we loved relaxing and enjoyed swimming and diving in the water. To this day, it has been one of my favorite places to scuba dive, simply because it felt like you were swimming in an overstocked aquarium.

Q. To someone who was going to Wakatobi for the first time, what would you recommend that they do during their visit?

A. Wakatobi Dive Resort ( has a camp-like feeling. It has five-star chefs and three boat dives offered to you on a daily basis. The resort is very small and only holds 55 people with enough staff to meet your every need. I say this is a great place to go for a water lover, scuba diver or book reader. I would wake up every day to a gourmet breakfast, go for a quick swim in the 85 degree water, eat lunch and then enjoy a nice massage in their spa. It is the best place to unwind and hang with people you love.

Q. How important is it to you that Blaise grows up seeing other parts of the world?

A. I love that we take Blaise to so many place already. Before he turned two, he had been to Australia, China and a couple times to Hawaii. He has also been on a six-week-long road trip around California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Utah. I think it's important to show him the world and how everyone lives in it. It's by far the best way to get an education outside the classroom.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?

A. Las Vegas is great because there's always something to do last minute and you can always find great deals. Catalina Island is also one of our favorite places to go and if you go in the winter it's super cheap and you have the whole place to yourself.

Q. In your mind, which cities are the most vegetarian-friendly?

A. I believe that any big city is very veggie friendly. You can find a great place to dine in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City.

Q. What are your five favorite cities?

A. Seattle, New York, Sun Valley, Laguna Beach and Tucson.

Q. Where have you traveled to that most reminded you of home?

A. Boca Raton, Fla., reminded me a lot of Orange County. It's very clean with a lot of great shopping and dining.