Barbara J. Bedford (also known as "B.J.") was born on November 9, 1972 in Hanover, New Hampshire. She was introduced to swimming by her three older brothers, whom she aspired to be like. She is the daughter of Frederick and Jane Bedford of Etna, New Hampshire. B.J. attended Hanover High School and Kimball Union Academy, where she swam with the North Country Aquatics Club. She later graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in Art History.
B.J. was a big competitor in the 2000 Olympics, where she won the 100 meter backstroke at the Olympic Trials in Indianapolis, IN as well as a Gold Medal in the 4 x 100 meter Medley Final in Sydney, Australia. B.J. has also earned seven U.S. National titles in the 50, 100 and 200 meter backstrokes. She also helped set a record (3:58.30) in the women's relay, breaking the record set by China at the 1994 World Championships.
Prior to the 2000 Olympics, Bedford won the Bronze Medal in the 1994 World Championships, becoming the 11th fastest woman in history in the 100 meter backstroke. That same year, B.J. won two Gold Medals and a Silver Medal at the Goodwill Games. She also participated in the 1988 Seoul Games and captured three gold medals for swimming in the women's 100 and 200 meter backstroke at the 1995 Pan Am Games held in Mar del Plata, Argentina.