In the 10 years she’s been swimming competitively, 22-year-old Amanda Beard has captured several world records, a gold medal at the World Championships in Barcelona, and gold, silver, and bronze at the last two Olympic games. But her greatest challenge to date? “Feeling comfortable in front of the camera,” she admits, before stepping out for our shoot. We think she did just fine. Wouldn’t you agree?

Is swimming enough to maintain your incredible body, or do you have other workouts to stay fit?
No, it’s not enough. I spend about four hours a day in the pool swimming, then run three times a week, lift three times a week, and do sit-ups and push-ups every day.

Have you ever gone in the water without waiting an hour after eating?
I have and when I do, I usually throw up in the gutter! If I’m getting a really hard workout, I can’t eat two or three hours before I swim. But if I eat right before . . . oh, it’s not pretty.

About your gold medal: Where do you keep it? Ever sleep in it or wear it in the shower? Is it hard for a man not to feel inferior when he’s dating a gold medalist?
Wait, wait, wait! First off, it’s only gold-plated. But that’s a secret. I don’t wear it to bed, and it’s never been an issue with boys. I keep it in my underwear drawer! It’s all soft in there, and I don’t want it to get scratched.

Ironically, a lot of male competitive swimmers have to shave their bodies in order to reduce “drag.” Is this also true for women?
What women do before a big competition is grow out their hair and then, right before the meet, shave. We grow it out for a couple of months sometimes, and it takes like two hours to shave. It’s so nasty. But it takes off the first layer of skin, so you slide through the water faster.

As an athlete, you must often encounter male swimmers who wear Speedos as a necessity. What are your thoughts?
Competitively, Speedos are great. Nothing beats them. But if there is a guy who’s wearing a Speedo at the beach, it’s wrong. And it’s always the big, old, fat, ugly, hairy men. What are they thinking? Bottom line: A man can look good in a Speedo, but would I ever date a man that wore a Speedo on the beach? No!

So how does your beachwear differ from what you wear in competition?
When I go to the beach in Europe, I only wear the bottoms. I love that.