Q&A with Amanda Beard

The seven-time-medalist and author on swimming with sharks and the sound of water.

For about 17 days every two years, like clockwork, we become transfixed on the world's top athletes. Amanda Beard, whom we first fell in love with as a 14-year-old swimming star at the Atlanta Games, has dazzled us longer than most: she competed in Atlanta, Sydney, Athens and Beijing, and is a seven-time medalist. Earlier this year the mother and celebrated athlete offered a glimpse into her world with a new memoir, In the Water, They Can't See You Cry. We caught up with her to learn more about what makes her tick — both in and out of the pool.

Her typical workout:
I train about eight times a week. Six of those workouts are in the pool, so that’s mostly cardio. The rest I do with a personal trainer, and he mixes it up a lot — he uses a lot of kettle bells and boot camp-type stuff.

What we'd be surprised to find in her refrigerator:
Lots of camera film. Instead of having vegetables in the vegetable trays, we have camera film. My husband is a photographer, and the fridge preserves it better.

Her pre-match ritual:
I have a massage therapist with me, but there’s nothing that I absolutely have to do before a match. I kind of zone out and put my headphones on.

The inspiration behind her memoir:
I give a lot of motivational speeches to young athletes, specifically girls, and their parents. I really felt like I had so much more to give to people about the things that I struggled with and how I have tried to overcome them. I wanted to inspire them — I wanted to reach out to someone and reassure them that they’re not alone.

The best vacation she's ever taken:
My husband and I went to Wakatobi — a teeny, tiny island, about a two and a half hour flight off the coast of Bali. We actually got married there, just the two of us. It’s an amazing resort that only holds about 50 people, and it’s a big scuba diving location. We jumped into 88-degree water, and it’s like you’re in a stocked aquarium. It was the best vacation of my life.

Ultimate healthy meal:
Chicken and broccoli. I’m always kind of in a rush with having a family and working out, so I’ll pick up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store on the way home and then steam some broccoli really fast and peel the skin off the chicken. It’s tasty and takes like two minutes.

Ultimate decadent meal:
Anything fried! (laughs) Good French fries, chicken strips. I love Mexican food — quesadillas or a chimichanga. Any of those things, I love it all!

Best insider tip:
My trainer has started making me veggie smoothies with his Vitamix that I drink throughout the day; they’re awesome.

What totally relaxes her:
The sound of water. Even if it’s a pool with people swimming laps in it, I just lay there and listen. Or if you’re at a resort, listening to the sound of the ocean or river or waterfall is great. We have a pool in our backyard with these waterfalls, and it’s like you go out there and just…(sighs).

Her healthy-living hero:
My trainer, Mike LaCoss. He always seems to be so motivated and healthy. Just living his life the way he that he wants to — it’s great.

What she's totally over:
A lot of things! (laughs) There are things that are kind of annoying, but at the same time they’re so much a part of me. Like the teddy bear that I had from the 1996 [Games]. People always bring it up, but it’s a memory to have.

Three things still on her bucket list:
I haven’t gone sky diving. I want to go cage diving with great whites, which I was supposed to do but then got pregnant. And learn how to kite surf.

Latest obsession:
The iPhone app, Draw Something. I’ve been playing with my sister. You draw things, send it, and people guess what it is. It’s totally dorky but totally fun. My sister drew Katniss from The Hunger Games, and I surprisingly guessed it right!

Style inspiration:
Someone like Jessica Alba because she dresses very comfortably but is very stylish. I’m all about comfort, but want to look cute at the same time. I’m a very laid-back California girl in jeans.

Message she'd send out to the world with one request (Only catch: it has to be 140 characters or less):
For people to not be ashamed of who they are. And to not judge others. Be accepting and loving.
Worldly fitness feat: rowing across the Drake Passage

"Waves crashed over the boat, and the water was barely above freezing."

Practice indulgent nourishment

"Cooking is one of the best things you can do for your health.”