Along the way, she met and fell for photographer Sacha Brown.
(AP) Amanda Beard is happily married and a proud mom, finally at peace after years of struggling at various times with depression, bulimia, drug abuse and toxic relationships with famous men while feeling unworthy of the swimming success that made her an Olympic medalist at 14.
Beard kept her physical and emotional turmoil hidden behind a huge smile, revealing little to her family, friends and coaches while she distracted herself from the pain with swimming.
But even that wasn't much of a refuge after she burst on the international scene by winning two silver medals in the breaststroke events and gold in the relay at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Beard hit puberty soon after, going through a growth spurt that added 6 inches and 30 pounds to her slender frame.
Beard recounts her ups and downs in the 245-page memoir "In the Water They Can't See You Cry" released this week.
The 30-year-old swimmer traces the cause of her struggles to her parent's divorce when she 12."But the fear wasn't as powerful as the benefits of purging," she writes.As a freshman, she caught the eye of South African swimming star Ryk Neethling, a senior on the Wildcats' team.Normal for most girls, it was disastrous for a swimmer.Her body's changes made her slower in the water and she lost races, generating whispers on the pool deck and the horrible feeling that she was letting people down.Although her family was loving, Beard said they never discussed their feelings out loud.