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Q&A: Amanda Beard

Last week SI writer Richard Deitsch interviewed swimmer Amanda Beard for the magazine's Q&A. The Olympic gold medalist -- and SI Swimsuit model -- is on the cover of the July issue of Playboy. Here are additional excerpts from their conversation:

SI: Do you consider yourself sexy?

Beard: No, not at all.

SI: How is that possible?

Beard: You should see me when I wake up for morning workouts. I don't feel sexy at all.

SI: Are you happy with the photos?

Beard: I love the photographs. I'm really excited for everyone to see them.

SI: How many pages do you appear in?

Beard: The pictorial is eight pages and there are eight nude photos.

SI: Is there a swimming theme?

Beard: There are a lot of themes, but there's a definitely water involved.

SI: Is being naked easy for you?

Beard: I think I'm a lot more comfortable being naked because my work attire is little swimming suits. You get used to not being covered very much. I'm more comfortable with a lot of skin showing than most people.

SI: How have people reacted to your decision to pose?

Beard: So far I feel like it's been a lot more positive than negative, and I'm excited about that. People are always surprised when I tell them that I get a lot of nice compliments from women. They approach me all the time and say that they look up to me and that it's really great to have an athletic, healthy body for people to look at.

SI: Have you ever autographed a naked picture of yourself?

Beard: (Laughs). I was thinking about that other day. Do I open the magazine? Do I sign the outside? How is that going to work? I have no idea what it is going to be like but I always sign on my stomach. That's my area to sign.

SI: Why the stomach?

Beard: There's a lot of space between the top and bottom.

SI: Did you buy yourself something with the money you earned from Playboy?

Beard: Yes, I did. A Ducati Monster. It's a motorcycle, a nice Italian bike. It's absolutely perfect for me being a beginning rider.

SI: If you were Hugh Hefner, what other athletes would you want to pose for Playboy?

Beard: Anna Kournikova, Maria Sharapova and Danica Patrick. Anna is gorgeous. And Danica is a bad-ass chick. She has a lot of male fans, so she would be perfect.

SI: Have you met Hefner?

Beard: I met him not too long ago for the first time. I was doing an interview for the Best Damn Sports Show Period and he was there with his girlfriend. I met him briefly. He was a sweetheart.

SI: Have you been to the Playboy mansion?

Beard: No. I was invited once before for a pre-ESPY thing. I did not make it out. But I'd love to go the mansion.

SI: What do you say to the people who suggest that posing nude is sexist or reinforces negative stereotypes about female athletes?

Beard: I do something if I feel comfortable doing it, and if I feel my family will get behind me on it, I couldn't care less what other people think. I work extremely hard to get the body that I have, so I kind of want to flaunt it a little bit before it goes away.

SI: Have you heard from the swimming community about the Playboy shoot?

Beard: Most people have said nice things to me. It's not very often people say mean things to me. My training group has not really talked to me about it. I think that's because I am a little more reserved when I am at practice, so I don't know if they even feel it is appropriate to speak about outside business. We have talked about it a little bit in the locker room. Me and the girls have chitchatted about it and they think it is pretty cool. They have guy friends who have requested autographs.

SI: Who was the first person you told you were doing this?

Beard: My dad, because I run everything by him when it's my career.

SI: What was his reaction?

Beard: Everyone has been extremely supportive and excited. I told my Dad I could give him an edited version where I put black strips over certain parts so he doesn't feel awkward. My family has been telling people to buy a bunch of copies. It's been fun for them.

SI: Why did you want to pose for Playboy?

Beard: I heard that they wanted me to pose and it just all came together really nicely. I got of a lot of control of the photo shoot. I got to pick my photographer. I got a lot of say in how I wanted to approach the shoot. I got a lot of control over such an amazing and reputable magazine that I would absolutely be a fool not to do this. Then I started to be extremely flattered that they even thought of me. I jumped on the opportunity. I am kind of a control freak so I wanted to do it as long as I could make it where I was coming through in the photos.

SI: Do you think people recognize you today more a cover model or a swimmer?

Beard: It's half and half. It depends where I am. I was shopping the other day and a couple of people came up to me and said, "You're Amanda, the swimmer." So people relate to me as a swimmer because they have seen me swimming but they also know I do more like modeling as well.

SI: You were once the world's downloaded athlete?

Beard: I know, that is weird.

SI: It is weird. What's it like knowing that?

Beard: I was like, What, are they downloading. I guess that is flattering but I don't know. I know I have not downloaded anything of myself.

SI: You have been in some very high-profile relationships with athletes including NASCAR driver Carl Edwards. What's the best thing and the worse thing about dating a fellow professional athlete?

Beard: It's always nice when someone realizes that kind of stress put onto you being an athlete and the kind of sacrifices you have to make. But the one thing is it is really hard to date another professional athlete because we bump heads. We are both too insanely competitive people who absolutely love our sport and don't want to budge. We are very stubborn people.

SI: Are you in a relationship today?

Beard: I am.

SI: Is it a pro athlete?

Beard: No, I've gotten out of that. He's a photographer.

SI: How is your boyfriend going to deal with people coming out of the woodwork to ask you out?

Beard: I don't think he'll be cool with it. But he will be understanding. He's good with that stuff. I think he's flattered that guys find his girlfriend attractive. I'm the exact opposite. I am jealous if girls to do that to him. I found a good boyfriend. He's not too overprotective or overbearing. He fits in perfectly. He was on set for the whole shoot. It made me comfortable having him on set.

SI: You can be one other athlete for one day, who are you?

Beard: I am Tito Ortiz. I could kick everybody's butt and I'd be considered a lethal weapon.

SI: Who is the most famous person in your cell phone?

Beard: It's a Blackberry (laughs). Frankie Muniz. Me, my boyfriend and Frankie go on motorcycle rides together all the time.

SI: Who is the person you most want to meet?

Beard: I have never met Michael Jordan. That would be cool. I kind of get more awestruck by athletes than actors.

SI: The person in sports and outside of sports you admire most?

Beard: I absolutely love Karl Malone and then outside of sports would be my father, Dan.

SI: You are 25. Realistically, how much longer can you compete?

Beard: I can probably make it to 2012, but whether or not I want to do that is more of the question. I definitely want to try for 2008. I always say it is my last Olympics but then I reevaluate at the end. I will be 30 years old in 2012.

SI: What events are your targeting for Beijing?

Beard: Personally, I would just like to make the team. If I had it my way, I would be doing the 100 breaststroke, 200 breaststroke, and the 200 IM, and then be put on a relay.

SI: When is the last time you swam competitively?

Beard: It's been like three years. Crazy, right?

SI: Are you concerned about being out of the competitive arena for so long?

Beard: Not really because if you knew me, on a daily basis I am being extremely competitive in everything I do. I have that drive and feeling in me. I just have not jumped on the blocks.

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