In Amanda Beard's memoir, she takes readers back to the beginning of her swimming career (as a four-year-old on her local summer team) all the way up through her last appearance at the Olympic Games in 2008. Along the way, she chronicles her many struggles: going from being the star of her summer team to the much more competitive club team; dealing with the self-image issues and physical changes that come with puberty; and her struggles with bulimia, drug use, and depression. This book is the story of her life behind her glimmering athletic and modeling careers; don't come here looking for training advice (the only training technique she really mentions at all is running through simple arithmetic in her head to distract herself from the pain of her workouts). As someone who also grew up with a swimming background (though on a much lower level), I thought this was a very interesting read. Amanda and I are almost the exact same age, so I watched her become one of the best swimmers in the world and transition that success into a modeling career with more than just a little jealousy. It is very difficult to make a life for yourself as a professional swimmer, and Amanda managed to do that with apparent ease. I think it was extremely brave of her to come out with this book and admit to all her struggles both in and out of the water. Far from being a depressing tale of her many trials and tribulations, I found it to be an uplifting story about overcoming your personal demons. Amanda shows in this book that self-doubt and roadblocks can plague any athlete, even an Olympic gold medalist.


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