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Video: Olympic swimmer reveals drug, bulimia struggles

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updated 4/3/2012 3:22:39 PM ET 2012-04-03T19:22:39

Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard, who won gold medals in Atlanta in 1996 and Athens in 2004, reveals in her new memoir, "In the Water They Can't See You Cry," that she struggled with eating disorders and cutting herself in college. It's ultimately an uplifting story: She sought help, transformed her life and seeks to compete in her fifth Olympic Games later this year in London. An excerpt.

Prologue
I could feel it coming. An angry, pulsing energy started to grow inside me. Sitting on the edge of the bathtub, I tried to zone out to the symmetry of the white subway tiles lining the wall in front of my face. But it always came too fast. I knew that. The only light in the bathroom arrived through the wall of opaque glass bricks behind the tub where outside the sun beat hot on Venice Beach. I blocked the daylight with my back, trying to keep the room dimmed out, as if that would help anything.

My toes curled up. That’s how it always started. Then the nervous energy drove up my body. My knees bounced hard. My fingers refused to stop wiggling. One ran against the inside of my palm as if foreshadowing the inevitable. I made a fist but the energy was now up around my face, clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth back and forth.

Rushing around my bloodstream, it started to overwhelm me. When it got to my brain, which would be soon, I wouldn’t be able to think at all. Then, at least, it would almost be over.

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My heart pumped like crazy, and my breathing was heavy. Suddenly it was hot, too hot.

Let it out.

Video: Olympic swimmer reveals drug, bulimia struggles (on this page)

I felt like a cartoon character with steam coming out of my ears.

Let it out.

Something had to happen. Something had to be done to release the pressure, or it would be released by my exploding. I was going to scream my head off, smash the bathroom mirror, or grab one of those tiny little eyebrow razors and cut my arm.

I grabbed the razor, a two-inch handle in a cheery shade of pink with an extremely thin and sharp blade at its tip. I surrendered to the object so tiny in my palm. With the razor in my right hand, I revealed the underside of my other arm, cradling it close to my body. The energy ran too fast to contemplate the moment before the half inch silver blade hit my arm. It flashed briefly in the sunlight before slicing into the meaty part between the wrist and the elbow. One. Two.Three. I made the small lines as I had done so many times before. I didn’t have to press hard, only run the razor across my skin as lightly as a blade of grass moving across the leg of a child running through a field.

I knew immediately. Something was wrong. The calm that usually washed over me as soon as I made my light little cuts with their delicate beads of blood was replaced by a new fear. In the moment when thinking was not possible and the energy took over, I must have applied too much pressure, because one of the cuts gushed blood. This was not in control.

Within a second or two, blood spread across my arm, dripping down from my elbow to the white tile floor below. It was getting all over the place, on my tank top, my jeans, my feet. I yelled at my boyfriend, Sacha, all the time for the messes he made around the house we shared. I was never the cause before.

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The sight of too much of my blood, a creepy red-brown color, sent a wave of panic over me. This wasn’t the satisfaction of the cuts that put things back in control. Scared, I grabbed a towel and threw it on my arm to try to stop the bleeding. Soon enough the towel was soaked in blood. I tried to grab another towel that was hanging on the door, but in my panicked state I knocked over a roll of toilet paper. I stood up and continued to drip blood on the floor, now covered with red drips and toilet paper.

NBC Sports: Amanda Beard calls birth ‘most amazing experience'

I threw the tissue in the toilet and tried to clean up the disaster on the floor with the fresh towel, but everything was chaos and I couldn’t stop the bleeding. I was like a kid who, trying to hide the evidence of her mistake before getting caught by Mommy or Daddy, just winds up making everything worse.

How did it get to this point? I was a three-time Olympic swimmer and world record holder who had appeared on the cover of national magazines in skimpy bathing suits that made everyone think I had all the confidence in the world. I made money in a sport where no one makes any. I owned my own home and paid my own bills. Lots of Americans who didn’t know anything about swimming knew my name and the face under the goggles. I also had a wonderful boyfriend, who made me feel like the sexiest, smartest, most important woman in the world. And yet I was miserable to the point of this. Bleeding and broken on a bathroom floor. I felt embarrassed and ashamed. Why was I such a loser?

Slideshow: Beauty behind brawn: Athletes who bared for Playboy (on this page)

I might have been an idiot, but I didn’t want to die. So I stood and looked at myself in the mirror to clean myself up. With my face and eyes red from crying, mascara running down my cheeks, and blood all over me, there was no masking this disaster.

I opened the door to see Sacha standing right outside. When he looked at me, I could see in his face just how terrible I was.

“What happened?” he asked.

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “I went too deep this time.”

Chapter 1
I wanted to get to the pool so badly, I was practically running. The July sun had already dried all the dew on our neighbors’ matching green lawns, and I was hot. Why were they taking so long?

I turned around to watch my family, almost half a block behind me. Mom and Dad, laughing as usual about some story, carried all the junk. They had packed a cooler filled with drinks, sandwiches, and chips that’d last us the whole day of hanging out in the pool and on the surrounding soft, grassy hills. Though we lived only two blocks away, my mom had enough towels, books, and blankets that we looked as if we were moving to the pool.

Okay, I could understand my parents’ slow speed, but what were my sisters’ problems? Lagging even farther behind, Leah and Taryn had their heads close together the way they always did when they were gossiping, which was a lot of the time. The three of us were like variations on the same theme. Despite the age differences (Leah was two years older than Taryn, who was five years older than me), we were all beanpoles with olive skin, dark brown hair, bright blue almond-shaped eyes, and huge California-girl smiles. But we couldn’t have looked more different.

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Leah’s hair was feathered as it always was, and even though we were headed for the pool, she had put on the blue eyeliner that was her current style obsession. I had to admit, she looked really good. Taryn was just as pretty. Her short hairstyle made her neck look graceful like a dancer’s. It was so different from the long, mostly blonde hair that practically every girl in our town had. But she hated doing her hair so much that Mom had threatened to cut it all off if she didn’t brush it. Taryn didn’t brush it, and my mom didn’t make idle threats. So Taryn had hair like a boy’s, which was fine with her.

However, I was the real tomboy. I never heard of a sport I didn’t want to play, and I never wavered from my uniform of shorts, T‑shirt, and sneakers. Today I had jazzed it up with my acid-washed shorts and New Kids on the Block tank top. But the heat was beginning to make my bathing suit underneath stick to my torso.

“Come on!” I shouted at my family. They just ignored me.

I could have run ahead without them. I knew the site — the pool (nine feet at one end, four feet at the other), the grassy hills, the showers, the covered area with picnic tables — like I knew the back of my hand. And I loved everything about the place: the buttery smell of sunscreen, the feel of hot concrete under my feet, the shock of the first jump into the pool. It didn’t matter that I spent all day, every day of the week, around the same pool during swim team practice. On the weekends, it was different; I had to be with my family. Instead of bolting ahead, I waited for my sisters, who agreed to play Marco Polo with me as soon as we arrived. After they grew bored, my dad chucked me across the pool a few times before he had to get out and help my mom set up the chairs and cooler near the encampment of parents. Luckily a group of neighborhood kids started a fierce game of sharks and minnows that went on until we were starved and our skin was puckered and white. I hopped out of the pool and bolted toward my mom, who greeted me with a clean towel, a turkey sandwich, and a cold Dr Pepper. After gobbling down lunch, I went straight back into the water. And that’s where I stayed, where we all stayed, until the sun started to go down on that perfect summer day.

NBC Sports opinion: Beard’s Playboy cover worth cheering about

Perfect. That’s the word that describes where I grew up. Irvine, California, had cul-de-sacs and identically manicured lawns, kids on bikes and parents who let us do pretty much as we wanted in what seemed like the safest town in the world. It was straight out of a John Hughes movie where the biggest problem is a fight with your best friend. You never saw a single piece of litter on the streets. Even the bright blue sky was straight out of a Hollywood set. Located in Orange County (not exactly known as a land of hardship), my hometown was sunny, on average, 325 days a year. And because it’s on the coast, the average temperature is a comfortable seventy degrees. We never had to worry about the town’s Easter Egg Hunt or Fourth of July Bike Parade getting rained out. As I said — perfect.

My parents fit right in. High school sweethearts from the Puget Sound region in Washington State, they got married when my mother, Gayle, was twenty and my dad, Dan, was twenty-one. He had been the captain of the football team, and she had been captain of the cheerleading squad. I made fun of them for their cheesy perfection (my mom was homecoming queen), but secretly I was proud to have them as parents.

With his dark skin, black hair, and blue eyes, I thought my dad was the most handsome guy in the world. A basketball player at Washington State, he kept his six-one frame in great shape by continuing to play lots of sports. My petite mom, a lighter beauty with sandy-blonde hair and pale-blue eyes, fit right into my dad’s side.

You couldn’t have asked for better parents. They were like best friends who never fought. Because they were both teachers — my dad taught hotel and restaurant management at Orange Coast College, and my mom taught art at various local schools — they always seemed to be around. Over boring, balanced breakfasts and dinners prepared by my mother, which we ate together every day, my siblings and I competed to see who could be the goofiest and get the most attention. Whether it was acting out Annie during a family camping trip or telling the best fart joke over chicken and broccoli, Mom and Dad encouraged us to have fun. Everything was about having a good time.

There was always something crazy going on in our house. That’s why all the neighborhood kids gravitated to our four-bedroom tract home in a development called the Colony. My parents, in their very laid-back way, welcomed every single one of our friends. They kept the fridge and cabinets stocked with all the best junk food and allowed us to act young and silly. That meant not freaking out if someone spilled soda on the carpet, hit a lawn ornament with a hockey puck, or lay around watching MTV all afternoon.

Some kids liked it so much, they hardly ever left. One summer, Bobby Lanza, a boy I was really close to from the age of two on, spent every minute that he wasn’t sleeping at our house. That wasn’t such a big deal; lots of kids did that. But Bobby, who was eight at the time, wore his Speedo for every single one of those minutes. “Jeez, Bobby, give that thing a rest,” my sister Taryn said by early July.

“Maybe you should give it a wash and wear something else,” Leah said.

“Do you sleep in your Speedo too?” Taryn laughed.

Bobby was unfazed, and so was I. Teasing was the price we happily paid to hang out with (or at least around) my older sisters and their friends. Although we were on the fringes — listening to the new Huey Lewis and the News album through an open door to the living room or using the terms face! orbitchin’ even if we had no idea what they meant — it was still an exciting place to be. Growing up, I thought Leah and Taryn were the coolest people on earth. Anything they did, I wanted to do too. When they started wearing huge socks scrunched down by their ankles, I begged my mom for a pair and wore them piled around my toothpick ankles. They used mousse to get their bangs to stand straight up, then so would I — well, at least once before I decided hair was a waste of time. I even posed the same way they did in photos, with their head tilted way over to one side.

Taryn wasn’t tolerant of my copycat ways. To her, I was nothing more than the annoying little sister. If my parents ever left her to babysit me, we’d both cry to try to get out of the arrangement. Leah, on the other hand, treated me like her special little baby. She would do anything for me, including play endless sessions of Barbie. If Leah had jumped off a bridge, I would have followed in a heartbeat.

While I didn’t leap off Golden Gate, I did take tap, jazz, and ballet because Leah was a big dancer. I stuck with it for several years until it was obvious to me and everyone else that I wasn’t very good at it.

While I adored Leah, the best times were when the entire family was together. And there was no better time in our family than Christmas. In our house, Christmas was not a subtle affair. We were those guys who got our tree the minute after the Thanksgiving dishes had been cleared. We played Christmas music and Christmas movies nonstop, decorated the house like crazy, and drank hot cocoa even though it was Southern California. I lived for our traditions, which included my mother and grandma baking trays of fattigman, an exotic savory cookie popular in Sweden and Norway, and my dad reading the children’s book The Polar Express to all the kids at our annual holiday party. We also used the holiday as an excuse to sneak in a few practical jokes, like the time we gave our grandfather — my dad’s dad, who had been a strict high school principal — a black lace thong for Christmas just to see his reaction when he opened his present. My mom, dad, sisters, and I all wound up laughing too hard to see the expression of shock on his face.

While I recognized that my parents, my town, our home, the pool, and my sisters (even Taryn) were perfect because of their natural, easygoing, and carefree ways, for me perfection could be achieved only through a kind of vigilance I had known ever since I could remember.

Video: Beard bares all in fight against fur (on this page)

Hyperorganized, a neat freak, kind of compulsive: call it what you like, I needed order. All my stuff was perfect. In my sixth-grade classroom, my little desktop stood out like an empty island in a sea of chaos. My pencils were lined up in descending height order next to my pens at the top of the desk, schoolwork and notes to the left, books to the right. When kids knocked my display askew with their backpacks, the disorder sent a cold feeling directly to the pit of my stomach. Until I righted it again.

No one ever had to tell me to clean my room; it was always clean. That was no small feat considering I had two parakeets (Goldie and Zeba), two lovebirds (Peaches and Big Mouth), and our family cats (Angel and Dodger), who used my room as their hangout. Those birds were a mess, constantly throwing their food out of their cages and all over my floor. The vacuum was practically attached to my hand, I used it so much. They were worth it though. I spent hours with my animals, dressing up the cats in outfits and teaching the birds to sit on my finger, which I thought was so cool. They were like best friends.

It wasn’t just my room that I cleaned. I would have sooner died than have my human friends come over to a dirty house. Before a playdate, I cleaned the house — and I don’t mean tidy but what my mom called a “deep clean.” I busted out the wood cleaner for the coffee table, dusted the bookshelves, put all the dishes away, Windexed the sliding glass doors, and made sure my Chipmunks record collection was nicely organized. My sisters — whose rooms appeared to have been hit by bombs that sent their Huey Lewis and Andre Agassi posters askew and their clothes across the floor — looked at me like I was crazy.

My mom, on the other hand, thought her youngest daughter giving her house a good scrub-down was hilarious.

“When I grow up, Mom, I want to be your maid,” I said. It was my fantasy job because I could live with my mom and clean.

“Fantastic,” she said.

I didn’t know my Windexing was weird — my parents certainly never made me feel that way. In fact, they made me feel as if anything I did was okay. Limitations never crossed my mind, especially when it came to the physical. Rambunctious to the extreme, I loved a goal, a competition, a challenge of any kind. There’s an old family video from one of our hiking trips to Yosemite where my sisters stop at a soggy, moss-covered log to discuss whether they can use it to cross a rushing creek. Suddenly the camera pans to me; with tall alpine trees as my backdrop, I flip my hair brazenly and then start to run across the log. No contemplation, no strategy, no taking it slow — just going for it. In the next scene, I fall off the log like a cartoon character and land smack in the gooey mud. I was completely humiliated, but no fall could erode my fearlessness. Nothing bad was ever going to happen to me. I was sure of that.

My combined fearlessness and high energy made for a lot of showing off. To expend a little bit of the energy that drove my parents nuts, they enrolled me in every activity under the sun. By the time I was four years old, I was taking swimming, soccer, gymnastics, and dance. And still, I had enough steam left over to play endless roller hockey with the neighbors.

When it came to sports, I wanted to do it all. And in Irvine that was a completely realistic goal. Everything was at our fingertips, with pristine basketball and tennis courts, fields, and pools that anybody in the community could use for free. I didn’t care if they were “boys’ sports” or not, I played softball, football, and basketball — you name it. Dad couldn’t have been happier; I was the son he never had.

Even when my dad and I rode our bikes to the basketball court to play horse, I felt the rush of competition and pedaled hard to keep up with him. On the court, he towered over me, his broad shoulders, lean torso, and powerful legs completely eclipsing my spaghetti-thin frame. But I thought I still had a shot. I’m faster, smarter. I can beat this giant. We both had the squinted look of people taking a game really, really seriously.

For hours we played horse (there was no way I could out-dribble my six-foot dad), forgetting about the time of day, trying crazier and crazier shots. My dad didn’t let me win. I had to really win. That hardly happened, but when it did, I bragged to my family how I had schooled Dad on the court.

In the whirlwind of activities that I did on any of the trim fields or bright, shining facilities in our town, swimming held a special place. Swimming was major in Orange County. Every kid did it, and every rich kid tried to do it well. For me, the love was real. From my earliest memories, the pool was the place of long, happy summer days having fun surrounded by everyone I knew. It was also the only sport shared by my oldest, girlie-girl sister; my middle, rebellious one; and me.

Before I had even turned two years old, my parents toted me to the community pool to watch my sisters’ practices and swim meets with their team, the Colony Red Hots. Hanging from my father’s arm or toddling with the help of my mother’s hand, I thrust my hands out, trying to reach the moving shapes in a spray of blue. By three, I was a full-on water baby who longed to be a part of the team, even though I wasn’t eligible to join the summer league until the following year. I was such a pest that the coaches got me a tiny black swimsuit with red piping, the uniform of a Red Hot.

It was official (at least to me!): I was part of the team. My parents and the coaches let me spend all summer pretending. I followed swimmers alongside the pool during races as if I and not they were swimming. During free swim, I dove like a dolphin between the legs of the older kids horsing around and challenged my sisters to see who could hold our breath underwater the longest. I stayed in the pool until my lips were blue and someone finally yanked me out.

In the summer of 1986, it was truly official. Old enough to really be in the league, I curled my toes around the edge of the starting block, as I had been taught, and stared at the long stretch of shining blue in front of me. In the periphery of my goggles I could detect the movements of my competitors, but I didn’t look at them. Just straight ahead.

Bang! A shot announced the start of the race.

I pushed off the block, trying to fly as far as I could through the air, and plunged into the water. In a flurry of reaching and kicking, my brain repeating every instruction again and again, I moved like a fish through the water. No, that’s too slow. More like a speeding bullet. Definitely. My heart pounded with the effort and my four-year old muscles began to strain. How much longer could I go? Then, bam, my hands hit the hard wall, and I shot up out of the water. An entire lap! And I had done it. I won!

I scanned the crowd through the watery view of my goggles and found my family cheering wildly. My sisters, in their Red Hot suits, were making whooping sounds while my mom clapped happily. But my dad was the most excited, pumping his fist into the air. I felt as if I had won the Olympics. I was hooked.

That summer I practiced for a half hour in the morning every day of the week with the other kids my age and then spent the rest of the day hanging around the pool, watching the older team members work out, or playing games until the sun had finally ducked behind the hills, which meant it was time to go home for dinner. The pool was the place to be. Mom and Dad, who had the summers off from teaching, were always waiting alongside the other parents at picnic tables covered in sandwiches and drinks for their ravenous kids. When my sisters weren’t in the pool, they joked around and gossiped with their friends in the shade of the trees or moved to the grassy hills for more serious discussions.

Out of the whole week, Saturdays were my favorite. That’s when we had swim meets. My three or four races were each only a lap long, which I knew wasn’t as hard as what the older kids did, but it didn’t matter. They were races and I was going to win. I put everything I knew how to put into those fifty-second bursts of crazy energy, and it usually paid off.

If anyone singled me out as a swimmer, it wasn’t for talent. It was for love and belonging. With the sun shining, my sisters as teammates, and my parents as cheerleaders, I would have been happy to stay in the water forever. Life would always be like this, because why change what’s perfect?

Excerpt from "In the Water They Can't See You Cry: A Memoir," by Amanda Beard with Rebecca Paley. Copyright © 2012 by Touchstone. Reprinted by permission from Simon & Schuster, Inc. NY.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive

Photos: Athletes who have graced the pages of Playboy

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  1. Amanda Beard, July 2007

    This is a copy of the issue of Playboy magazine showing the cover of Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard. Inside, she takes off her clothes in eight pictures. (Kevork Djansezian / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Amanda Beard, July 2007

    United States Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard poses for a photo in Los Angeles June 7, 2007. There's a lot more to see of the swimmer in the July issue of Playboy, where Beard is on the cover billed as "the world's sexiest athlete nude." (Kevork Djansezian / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Amanda Beard, July 2007

    Amanda Beard reacts after winning the gold medal in the 200-meter breaststroke at the Olympic Aquatic Centre during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Aug. 19, 2004. (Mark J. Terrill / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Amanda Beard, July 2007

    Swimmer Amanda Beard arrives at MAXIM's 2008 Hot 100 party on May 21, 2008 at the Paramount Studio Lot, in Los Angeles. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Amanda Beard, July 2007

    United States Olympic gold medal swimmer Amanda Beard poses with her Playboy Magazine cover during the opening day of the 2007 Licensing International Expo at the Jacob Javits Convention Center June 19, 2007. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Amanda Beard, July 2007

    Swimmer Amanda Beard arrives at the 2007 ESPY Awards at the Kodak Theatre on July 11, 2007 in Hollywood. (Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Gabrielle Reece, January 2001

    Professional volleyball player and model Gabrielle Reece posed nude in the January 2001 edition of Playboy Magazine. () Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Gabrielle Reece, January 2001

    Gabrielle Reece arrives at the 42nd Annual Academy Of Country Music Awards held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 15, 2007 in Las Vegas. (Michael Buckner / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Gabrielle Reece, January 2001

    Volleyball player/actress Gabrielle Reece appears on the set of "Cloud Nine" on May 12, 2004 at Will Rodgers State Beach, in Pacific Palisades, Calif. (Stephen Shugerman / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Gabrielle Reece, January 2001

    Actress Cortney Cox-Arquette (L), singer Sheryl Crow (C) and model Gabrielle Reece (R) arrive for the premier of the new Fox comedy film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles, Oct. 23 2006. (Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Gabrielle Reece, January 2001

    Gabrielle Reece watches from the poolside as her husband Laird Hamilton surfs the waves. (Dan Callister / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Gabrielle Reece, January 2001

    Gabrielle Reece of Team Nike prepares to serve during the 1996 Bud Light Tour in San Diego. (Markus Boesch / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Katarina Witt, December 1998

    Olympic figure skating champion Katarina Witt poses next to her Playboy cover photo at the All-Star Cafe in New York Nov. 4, 1998. The two-time Olympic figure skating gold medalist was featured in a 10-page photo layout in the December issue of Playboy, shown prancing through woods and streams. (Lynsey Addario / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Katarina Witt, December 1998

    Katarina Witt of East Germany skates in the women's final at the European Figure Skating Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, Jan. 22, 1994. (Thomas Kienzle / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Katarina Witt, December 1998

    Katarina Witt poses at an event on Feb. 7, 2004. (Michael Probst / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Katarina Witt, December 1998

    Katarina Witt performs on the ice during her last show of Katarina Witt's farewell tour on March 4, 2008 in Hanover, Germany. (Krafft Angerer / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Katarina Witt, December 1998

    Katarina Witt performs on the ice during the first show of Katarina Witt's farewell tour on Feb. 16, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. (Getty Images / Bongarts/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Katarina Witt, December 1998

    Members of the rock group Kiss perform with former ice skaters Kristi Yamaguchi (2nd L) and Katarina Witt (R) during the closing ceremony of the XIXth Winter Olympic Games, Feb. 24, 2002 at the Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium in Salt Lake City. (Timothy A. Clary / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Ashley Harkleroad, August 2008

    United States tennis player Ashley Harkleroad bared it all in the August 2008 issue of Playboy Magazine. () Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Ashley Harkleroad, August 2008

    Ashley Harkleroad looks on during the Women's Singles first round match against Serena Williams at the French Open at Roland Garros on May 25, 2008. (Mike Hewitt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Ashley Harkleroad, August 2008

    Ashley Harkleroad returns a ball during the JP Morgan Chase Open on July 19, 2004 at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles. (Streeter Lecka / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Ashley Harkleroad, August 2008

    Ashley Harkleroad returns the ball against Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinals of the Pacific Life Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., March 18, 2008. (Mark Avery / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Ashley Harkleroad, August 2008

    Ashley Harkleroad takes a drink of the Nasdaq 100 Open, part of the WTA Sony Ericsson Tour, at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park on March 22, 2006 in Miami. (Jamie Squire / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Ashley Harkleroad, August 2008

    Ashley Harkleroad hits a forehand to Els Callens of Belgium during the 118th Wimbledon Tennis Championships on June 24, 2004. (Odd Andersen / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Ashley Massaro, April 2007

    WWE Diva Ashley Massaro posed nude in the April 2007 edition of Playboy Magazine. () Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Ashley Massaro, April 2007

    Ashley Massaro arrives at the CW Network launch party held at Warner Bros. Studios on Sept. 18, 2006. (Scott Kirkland / Associated Press) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Ashley Massaro, April 2007

    Todd Herzog, front right, answers questions as fellow contestants, top left to right, Chicken Morris, Ashley Massaro, Leslie Nease, Dave Cruser, Aaron Reisberger, center left to right, Sherea Lloyd, Jaime Dugan, Jean-Robert Bellande, Frosti Zernow, James Clement, Erik Huffman, front left to right, Peih-Gee Law, Denise Martin, Amanda Kimmel, Courtney Yates, and host Jeff Probst, far right, listen after Herzog is announced the winner during the Survivor China Finale at CBS Television City Dec. 16, 2007. (Phil Mccarten / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Ashley Massaro, April 2007

    WWE performers (L-R) The Great Khali, Ashley Massaro and Shawn Daivari arrive at the CW Network launch party held at Warner Bros. Studios on Sept. 18, 2006. (Scott Kirkland / Associated Press) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Ashley Massaro, April 2007

    Contestant Ashley Massaro attends the Survivor: China Finale at CBS Television City on Dec. 16, 2007. (Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Ashley Massaro, April 2007

    WWE performers Mike Mizanin and Ashley Massaro arrive at The CW Network Winter TCA Party at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel on Jan. 19, 2007 in Pasadena, Calif. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Ashley Massaro, April 2007; Maria Kanellis, April, 2008

    WWE Divas Ashley and Maria attend the WrestleMania 24 press conference, held at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square March 26, 2008 in New York. (Kristie Bull/graylock.com / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Maria Kanellis, April, 2008

    WWE Diva Maria Kanellis posed nude in the April 2008 edition of Playboy Magazine. () Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Maria Kanellis, April, 2008

    Maria, WWE Diva and Playboy covergirl, poses during the launch of USA Network 2008 Upfront original summer event at the Arts Club of Chicago April 1, 2008 in Chicago. (Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Maria Kanellis, April, 2008

    WWE Diva Maria arrives at the Lions Gate premiere of See No Evil at the Century Stadium Promenade 25 on May 8, 2006 in Orange, Calif. (Michael Buckner / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Maria Kanellis, April, 2008

    WWE Diva and Playboy model Maria attends an autograph signing at the Virgin Megastore Times Square March 6, 2008 in New York City. (Brad Barket / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Christy Hemme, April 2005

    In 2005, then-WWE Diva Christy Hemme became the next in a long line of women professional wrestlers to grace the pages of Playboy. She's now with another wrestling company and is a TNA Knockout. () Back to slideshow navigation
  37. Christy Hemme, April 2005

    Christy Hemme got her start in World Wrestling Entertainment when she won a contract for winning the Diva Search contest. () Back to slideshow navigation
  38. Christy Hemme, April 2005

    After being released by World Wrestling Entertainment, Christy Hemme moved on to another wrestling company, Total Nonstop Action. () Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Christy Hemme, April 2005

    Christy Hemme competes as a TNA Knockout and can be seen on TNA Impact every Thursday on Spike. () Back to slideshow navigation
  40. Mia St. John, November 1999

    Professional boxer Mia St. John posed nude in the November 1999 edition of Playboy Magazine. () Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Mia St. John, November 1999

    Mia St. John weighs-in Dec. 5, 2002, at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich. St. John faced Christy Martin of Orlando, Fla., Dec. 6, in a WBC pound-for-pound title match. (John F. Martin / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. Mia St. John, November 1999

    Mia St. John, right, and Linda Robinson trade blows in the fourth round of their four-round featherweight bout in Los Angeles, June 17, 2000. St. John won the bout by unanimous decision. (Kevork Djansezian / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. Mia St. John, November 1999

    Mia St. John attends the launch party for Vh1's Celebrity Paranormal Project at the Social Club on Oct. 19, 2006 in Hollywood. (John M. Heller / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. Mia St. John, November 1999

    Boxer Mia St. John attends the 12th Annual ESPY Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on July 14, 2004 in Hollywood. (Mark Mainz / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. Mia St. John, November 1999

    Boxer Mia St. John attends the 2003 ESPY Awards at the Kodak Theatre July 16, 2003 in Hollywood. (Vince Bucci / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  46. Candice Michelle, April 2006

    WWE Diva and former Women's Champion Candice Michelle posed nude in the April 2006 edition of Playboy Magazine. () Back to slideshow navigation
  47. Maria Kanellis, April 2008; Candice Michelle, April 2006

    WWE Divas and Playboy cover girls Maria Kanellis (right) and Candice Michelle pose at the USA Network's presentation upcoming programming. (Evans Vestal Ward / Associated Press) Back to slideshow navigation
  48. Candice Michelle, April 2006

    WWE Diva Candice Michelle poses for photographers prior to the start of the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, May 27, 2007. (Rob Carr / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  49. Candice Michelle, April 2006

    WWE Diva Candice Michelle arrives at "The Starter Wife" premiere party on May 22, 2007. (Chris Haston / Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank) Back to slideshow navigation
  50. Candice Michelle, April 2006

    Survivor Jonny Fairplay (L) and WWE Diva Candice Michelle arrive at the 2007 Fox Reality Channel Really Awards held at Boulevard 3 on Oct. 2, 2007 in Hollywood. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  51. Candice Michelle, April 2006

    Playmate and WWE Diva Candice Michelle poses in the Playboy pool on April 8, 2003 at the Playboy Mansion. (David Klein / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  52. Lisa Guerrero, January 2006

    Former NFL cheerleader and sideline reporter Lisa Guerrero was on the cover of the first issue of Playboy in 2006. () Back to slideshow navigation
  53. Lisa Guerrero, January 2006

    Former NFL cheerleader and sideline reporter Lisa Guerrero arrives for the Los Angeles Premiere Of Match Point held at the Los Angles County Museum of Arts on Dec. 8, 2005 in Los Angeles. She would pose topless in the January 2006 issue of Playboy. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  54. Lisa Guerrero, January 2006

    Then-ABC sideline reporter Lisa Guerrero interviews head coach Mike Martz of the St. Louis Rams following their victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Aug. 18, 2003. (Elsa / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  55. Lisa Guerrero, January 2006

    ABC's Monday Night Football sideline reporter Lisa Guerrero interviews Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinee Marcus Allen during the Hall of Fame game between the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Fawcett Stadium on Aug. 4, 2003 in Canton, Ohio. (David Maxwell / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  56. Lisa Guerrero, January 2006

    Al Michaels, left, Lisa Guerrero and John Madden present the Best Play during the 2003 ESPY Awards at the Kodak Theatre July 16, 2003 in Hollywood. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  57. Lisa Guerrero, January 2006

    Sportscaster Lisa Guerrero attends the 2003 ESPY Awards at the Kodak Theatre July 16, 2003 in Hollywood. (Vince Bucci / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  58. Rena "Sable" Mero - April 1999, September, 1999, March 2004

    Former WWE Diva and Women's Champion Sable posed nude in the April 1999 edition of Playboy Magazine. It was one of the highest-selling issues of all time. () Back to slideshow navigation
  59. Rena "Sable" Mero - April 1999, September, 1999, March 2004

    Sable became the first woman ever to grace the cover of Playboy Magazine twice in the same year when she donned the cover of the September 1999 edition. () Back to slideshow navigation
  60. Rena "Sable" Mero - April 1999, September, 1999, March 2004

    Rena Mero, formerly Sable, a professional wrestler for WWE, pulls on Zebby's scarf as the two try to promote their shows at the National Association of Television Program Executives in New Orleans, Jan. 25, 2000. (Judi Bottoni / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  61. Rena "Sable" Mero - April 1999, September, 1999, March 2004

    Former WWE Diva and Women's Champion Sable, poses at a photo shoot in 1999. (Getty Images / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  62. Rena "Sable" Mero - April 1999, September, 1999, March 2004

    Former WWE Diva and Women's Champion Sable poses in 1999. (Getty Images / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  63. Rena "Sable" Mero - April 1999, September, 1999, March 2004

    Former WWE Diva and Women's Champion talks in the ring during a 1999 edition of Monday Night RAW. (Getty Images / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  64. Rena "Sable" Mero - April 1999, September, 1999, March 2004; Torrie Wilson - May 2003, March 2004

    WWE Divas Torrie Wilson and Sable both posed nude in the March 2004 edition of Playboy Magazine. It was Wilson's second cover and Sable's third. () Back to slideshow navigation
  65. Torrie Wilson - May 2003, March 2004

    Former WWE Diva Torrie Wilson posed nude in the May 2003 edition of Playboy Magazine. () Back to slideshow navigation
  66. Torrie Wilson - May 2003, March 2004

    Torrie Wilson arrives at the Los Angeles Screening of De-Lovely at the Academy Theatre on June 11, 2004 in Beverly Hills. (Tammie Arroyo / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  67. Torrie Wilson - May 2003, March 2004

    Torrie Wilson arrives to the premiere of Kill Bill Vol. II at the Arclight Theatre in Los Angeles on April 8, 2004. (Chris Polk / AP Photo) Back to slideshow navigation
  68. Torrie Wilson - May 2003, March 2004

    Then-WWE Divas Stacey Keibler and Torrie Wilson (L-R) arrive at Von Dutch Originals head designer Christian Audigier's birthday party on May 21, 2004 at a private residence in Hollywood. The event, attended by many hundreds of guests, featured a live performance by The Gypsy Kings. (Amanda Edwards / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  69. Torrie Wilson - May 2003, March 2004

    WWE Diva Torrie Wilson poses backstage at the Nickelodeon Australian Kids' Choice Awards 2007 at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on Oct. 10, 2007 in Sydney, Australia. (Kristian Dowling / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  70. Torrie Wilson - May 2003, March 2004

    WWE Diva Torrie Wilson arrives at Von Dutch Originals head designer Christian Audigier's birthday party on May 21, 2004. (Amanda Edwards / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  71. Joanie "Chyna" Laurer, November 2000 and January 2002

    Joanie "Chyna" Laurer posed nude in the November 2000 edition of Playboy Magazine. It was reportedly one of the 10 best selling issues of all time. () Back to slideshow navigation
  72. Joanie "Chyna" Laurer, November 2000 and January 2002

    Joanie Laurer, formerly known as WWE wrestler Chyna, poses at a preview of the Exotic Erotic Ball at Virgin Megastore Nov. 26, 2001 in New York City. (Lawrence Lucier / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  73. Joanie "Chyna" Laurer, November 2000 and January 2002

    Joanie Laurer aka Chyna arrives at the "Comedy Central Roast of Flavor Flav" in Burbank, Calif. on July 22, 2007. (Matt Sayles / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  74. Joanie "Chyna" Laurer, November 2000 and January 2002

    Former WWE Diva Chyna poses with WWE wrestler Triple H. (Getty Images / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  75. Joanie "Chyna" Laurer, November 2000 and January 2002

    Playboy founder Hugh Hefner poses with former wrestler, Joanie Laurer, during Barfly's 5th year anniversary party on Dec. 18, 2002 in West Hollywood. (David Klein / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  76. Joanie "Chyna" Laurer, November 2000 and January 2002

    (L-R) Joanie Laurer, formerly known as Chyna of WWE, legendary rock band Kiss and plus-size model Anna Nicole Smith (C) show off at the Lane Bryant Lingerie Fashion Show Feb. 5, 2002 in New York City. (George Desota / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  77. Amy Acuff, September 2004

    Olympic high jumper Amy Acuff posed nude in the September 2004 edition of Playboy Magazine. () Back to slideshow navigation
  78. Amy Acuff, September 2004

    Amy Acuff competes in the women's high jump during the U.S. Indoor Track and Field Championships, Feb. 23, 2008, in Boston. Acuff won at a height of 6 feet, 3 1/2 inches. (Michael Dwyer / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  79. Amy Acuff, September 2004

    Amy Acuff of the United States celebrates after making a clean jump in the Women's high jump qualifying at the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Birmingham, England, March 15, 2003. (Alastair Grant / ASSOCIATED PRESS) Back to slideshow navigation
  80. Amy Acuff, September 2004

    Amy Acuff smiles after winning the women's high jump during Day 3 of the AT&T USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships June 23, 2007 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Matthew Stockman / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  81. Amy Acuff, September 2004

    Amy Acuff during the women's High Jump qualifying at the 10th IAAF World Athletics Championships on Aug. 6, 2005 in Helsinki, Finland. (Stu Forster / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  82. Kiana Tom, May 2002

    Kiana Tom made her name as a model and a fitness instructor before baring it all for Playboy. () Back to slideshow navigation
  83. Rachelle Leah, November 2008

    Once a UFC Octagon Girl and now the host of UFC All-Access, Rachelle Leah posed for the November 2008 issue of Playboy. (Frazer Harrison / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  84. Rachelle Leah, November 2008

    Actress Samantha Morton arrives at the screening of the movie "Morvern Callar" during the CineVegas film festival at the Brenden Theatres at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas June 17, 2005. Morton was given the Half-Life Award at the screening. Rachelle Leah is shown on the left. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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