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Olympic swimmer to speak in Columbus Thursday




Special to The Dispatch



The Gordy Honors College Forum Series continues March 27 when it welcomes four-time Olympian swimmer Amanda Beard to Columbus. Her presentation entitled "Striving for Excellence: Olympic Success and Real Life Challenges" is the second annual Nell Peel Wolfe Lecture. It begins at 6 p.m. in the Limbert Assembly Room in Cochran Hall on the campus of Mississippi University for Women. It is free and open to the public. 


Beard made her first Olympic appearance at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games at the age of 14, while a student at Irvine High School in Irvine, Calif. She won silver medals in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststrokes, and gold in the medley relay. Her young-teen manner captured the attention of the media, and she was often photographed clutching her teddy bear, even on the medal stand. She won a bronze medal in the 200-meter breaststroke at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  


The swimmer attended the University of Arizona where she captured an individual NCAA National Championship in 2001. In 2003 she became the world champion and world record holder in the 200-meter breaststroke. At the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, Amanda won her first individual gold medal in the 200-meter breaststroke and a silver medal in the 200-meter individual medley. In 2008, Beard made her fourth Olympic team, and was selected as a co-captain. 


She is the winner of eight United States titles -- three times in both the 200-meter breaststroke and the 100-meter breaststroke, plus twice in the 200-meter individual medley. She was ranked first in the world for 200-meter breaststrokers in 2003. 




Outside the pool 


Beard is well known for her work outside the pool. She began her modeling career at the age of 16 when she appeared in "Jump" magazine. Her modeling work has included appearances in FHM, SELF, Vogue, Maxim, Triathlete, ELLE, Outside Magazine and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. In November 2007, Beard made her first television commercial for GoDaddy entitled "Shock." It featured her "flashing" the seven Olympic medals she won from 1996-2004. In April 2008, she joined Fox Network's popular sports talk program, "The Best Damn Sports Show Period," as a correspondent, covering major sporting events. 


Beard gives of her time in support of several charity groups. In 2008, Beard participated in an anti-fur campaign for the organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). She also works on behalf of Susan G. Komen's breast cancer awareness, the Defenders of the Wildlife Program, and the World Waterpark Association. 




Overcoming struggles 


Now married and a mother, Beard writes regularly on her blog, "Swim Like a Mom." Her recently published book, "In the Water They Can't See You Cry," was a New York Times bestseller. The book explores her personal struggles. Despite her career and sex symbol status (at one point she was the most downloaded female athlete on the Internet), Beard felt unworthy of her success. Unaware that she was suffering from clinical depression, she hid the pain under her megawatt smile. She expressed her emotions through self-destructive behavior including bulimia, abuse of drugs and alcohol, and toxic relationships with high-profile men in sports. A renewed faith in herself, marriage and motherhood, has helped Beard transform her life. 


Beard's presentation is made possible by a grant from the family of Nell Peel Wolfe for whom the lecture is named. Beard will be available following the presentation to meet the audience and sign books.  


For reserved group seating or further information, contact the Gordy Honors College at [email protected] or 662-241-6850, or go to



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