Amanda Beard may be a four-time Olympian, but swimming is no longer the most important thing in her life, she said.
That honor belongs to her two-year-old son, Blaise.
Beard, who is looking to qualify for the 2012 Olympic swim team, said that training for an Olympic berth has been a little different this time around.
"It's completely different, and for all the most amazing reasons," Beard told me. "Before I had my son and was married and had this lifestyle, (I could) be extremely selfish."
In the past, it wasn't uncommon for Beard to work out, take a nap and work out again. Looking back on it, she's surprised by how much time she had before starting a family.
"Now, I never have enough time," Beard told me. "So my priorities now have shifted. It's all about my son and taking care of him and his health and making sure everything is running smoothly in his life, and thentrying to squeeze my stuff in in between."
On June 26, 2012, Beard will hit the water in an effort to qualify for her fifth Olympic team.
Beard competed in her first Olympic Games in 1996 when she was just 14 years old. Since then, she's been present at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games and has earned a total of seven Olympic medals. She couldn't have done any of it without her sponsors, she said, and she named one sponsor in particular that has really helped her to find the balance between being a relatively new mother and an elite-level athlete.
"Without the support of someone like Aqua Sphere obviously I wouldn't be able to swim," Beard told me. "They allow me to pay my bills and supply me with swimsuits and goggles and swim caps and just constantly help me out so I can swim. They allow me to make swimming my job, so for companies like that I'm extremely grateful and appreciative because they really truly allow me to chase my dreams."
Beard, 30, will continue to chase her dream of qualifying for her fifth Olympic team at the U.S. Olympic swimming team trials in Omaha. First, she'll swim the 100-meter breaststroke on June 26, 2012, and on June 29, 2012, she'll participate in the preliminary heats of the 200-meter breaststroke. The top two women in each event qualify to represent the United States, and Beard heads into the trials fourth in the 100 breaststroke and second in the 200 breaststroke.
Sandra Johnson was a competitive swimmer for more than 15 years before she began coaching. She is a longtime Olympic fan, and while working for the United States Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs, Colo., she had the opportunity to immerse herself in the Olympic Movement. Follow her on Twitter: @SandraJohnson46.