But with the 2012 Olympics in sight, Beard is set to add a new accomplishment to her crowded list: being an author.
According to CBS News, Beard's upcoming memoir, In the Water They Can't See You Cry, will detail her life as an Olympic medalist several times over, as well as share stories away from the pool and her "harrowing journey" through drugs, alcohol and eating disorders. The book, which will be co-written by Beard's manager Evan Morgenstein, will be published by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster (CBS).
One Badly Time Injury Could Spoil It All
As for the timing, at first blush it seems like a no-brainer to bring out the book in April 2012, just as Beard hopes to be preparing for the 2012 Games. But publishing's tortoise-like scheduling may be a thorn in Beard's side, accustomed as she is to a world where milliseconds make all the difference between being an Olympian and watching from TV at home.
All it takes, however, is one injury at the wrong time or the arrival of a new face out of nowhere to derail long-in-the-making expectations, and Beard's results so far this year, when she came out of retirement with an eye toward the London Summer Games, have been lackluster: At the National Championships in August, she qualified for finals in both the 100 breaststroke and 200 breaststroke -- events for which she'd previously won several world and Olympic medals -- but failed to medal, finishing fifth both times. Coughlin, by comparison, finished first and third in two events.
Whether or not Beard succeeds in her newest bid to be an Olympian, she certainly has a story to tell. And Beard and her publisher are banking on that story reaching not just Olympic Games watchers, but a broader and wider audience, as well.