AmandaBeard_16

Chelsea Logan: You won your first medal at fourteen. How has your training regimen changed over the years?

Amanda Beard: My training centered on aerobic development, meaning I’d swim longer with less intensity during the majority of my practices. As I got older, I began more weight training, and my workouts went from long at a lower intensity to shorter and more intense.

CL: What are you doing differently now to prepare for the 2016 Olympics in Rio?

AB: While I’ve always trained with weights outside of the pool, I now train almost daily with CrossFit workouts, yoga or Pilates, hiking, biking, and more. Also, I don’t underestimate the power of mental preparation throughout all of my training. I’m in a much better state of mind about competition.

Like anyone, I stress and get hard on myself from time to time, but it’s minute compared to the pressure I used to put on myself to perform and succeed. To my kids’ credit, they’ve probably helped me the most here: I’m more worried about what they’re doing than what I’m doing!

When people say that kids change your life, it’s no small feat what they do. I’ve stressed about competition my whole life, but the minute I held my son Blaise in my arms for the first time, those stresses diminished.

CL: As a seasoned athlete, how do you handle pre-competition jitters?

AB: I’m a firm believer that a little deep breathing goes a long way. The time leading up to a race is always hectic. Almost religiously, I step away from everything and close my eyes and breathe deeply for a few moments. It helps solidify my focus and aligns everything in my body to take care of the task at hand—which is winning, of course.

CL: On your blog, Swim Like a Mom, you say, “Being a parent is the most difficult endeavor I have ever committed to.” You’re now a mother of two young children. What are you doing to balance your home life and your career?

AB: Focusing on quality over quantity in training. Pool sprints, CrossFit, and circuit training are all incredible workouts that don’t require hours of commitment each day.

Although our lives can get crazy and hectic in our house, we make it a point to get active often. Blaise hangs out with me at the pool a lot, and we take walks together as a family almost every day. On weekends, we spend as much time as possible outside, doing activities like biking and hiking.

CL: What do you do to mentally handle the pressures of being an athlete?

AB: I’m a firm believer in slowing down to improve my state of mind when I’m training, and yoga and meditation have been paramount to my success in this way.

I have kids. Unbeknownst to them, they are quick to snap me back to reality when I start feeling the pressure of being an athlete! It’s a breath of fresh air to have two people to focus on; their happiness erases all the pressures I have on myself.

CL: Do you feel your performance has improved as a result of this?

AB: My performance has improved dramatically from yoga and meditation. No athlete ever dominated by sticking to one sport all the time. Life is all about balance: sprinting hard and fast, breathing deep and slow. Working out with my coaches, playing with my kids. Eating whole foods for fuel, enjoying a glass of wine with friends.

CL: Equipment malfunctions can happen during competitions. How do you handle it?

AB: Malfunctions are inevitable. It’s important to push through them during practice—versus stopping to fix and restart—so that you’re prepared for one mid-competition. Breaking composure, confidence, and speed in the water makes you lose the race, not the goggles that fell off your head when you dove in.

CL: Will the 2016 Olympics be your last?

AB: Yes! It’s been an absolutely incredible journey, and I’m ready to go out with a bang.

Amanda Beard is an Olympic gold medalist in swimming.

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PHOTO: AQUA SPHERE

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