Sports Illustrated Swimsuit has announced its Swim Search Final 12.
The list includes a former associate dean, entrepreneurs, ex-beauty queens and a Denver Broncos cheerleader.
After in-person casting calls were scrapped because of the COVID pandemic, the search went digital, using social media and The Swimfluence Network app to find a new pool of candidates.
Past winners have been models , , and Camille Kostek, as well as actress Kathy Jacobs.
FEMAIL reveals what you need to know about the final 12 who are bound to make a splash as they vie to be featured as a rookie in the May 2024 issue.
Achieng Agutu earned more than $1 million in her first year as a full-time influencer
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‘She first gained prominence for her comedic monologues focused on showing what regular bodies look like,’ the publication added.
‘Her personal mission is to empower people to live authentically and live their best lives through self-love and self-confidence, and by reshaping beauty standards.’
Nina Cash gave up her modeling career to raise her daughter as a single parent at 25 before reviving her dream years later
As a retired university associate dean, from CShe has worked in education, training and workforce development for more than three decades, and holds a doctorate in educational leadership – focusing on higher education and adultadult learning.
The impressive finalist was on season three of TV Land’s reality show She’s Got The Look back in 2010.
Much like America’s Next Top Model, the series sees 10 women who are 35 years old or older compete for a modeling contract.
As a retired university associate dean, from California’s Long Beach, the realization of Nina’s modeling dream has been a long time coming
She has worked in education, training and workforce development for more than three decades, and holds a doctorate in educational leadership
‘My first casting was for O’Neill swimwear, I was very intimidated. I didn’t have the right [photos] yet, and some of the girls were giggling because I brought my mom with me… but I found out the next day I was cast, and I was paid $685 for the day. I thought I was going to get paid $6.85 an hour,’ she told the publication.
She worked as a ‘catalog girl,’ appearing for Robinson’s, Macy’s and other brands including in Vienna.
But she had to give up her modeling pursuits to have her daughter as a single parent when she fell pregnant at 25.
‘I had started to go to Long Beach City College (when I was 18 years old), but I never finished… I went back to school at age 34 and finally got my bachelor’s degree, 20 years to the day after I graduated high school,’ Nina added.
The then 43-year-old got her second chance on the reality show with the support of her husband and daughter.
‘I liked what the show was about, which is empowering women over 35 years old,’ she told Press-Telegram.
‘It’s true that beauty does blossom with age… I was so nervous when [the producers asked me questions]. I thought I was a has-been.’
Now married with three daughters, the 56-year-old, who confidently sports her gray hair, is now in the final 12 for the SI Swim Search and is signed to NTA Model Management.
Sharina Gutierrez has been in the modeling industry since she was 12 and boasts an impressive resume
The 32-year-old is no stranger to the industry.
Her extensive resume includes working with high-profile brands – including Reebok, Rimmel London, Estee Lauder and Ralph Lauren.
‘In addition to her modeling career, [Sharina] is a sound guide who helps people rise to their higher selves and pursue a life of unconditional self-love,’ SI Swimsuit reported.
‘She is also a founding member of Mama Mantra, a family brand launching in 2023 that focuses on spreading positivity and encouraging parents and children to believe in themselves and break barriers.’
Sharina also has three children and lives in Los Angeles.
From the age of 12, Sharina has been in music videos, commercials, campaigns and on magazine covers
Her impressive resume includes working with high-profile brands, including Reebok, Rimmel London, Estee Lauder and Ralph Lauren. She’s pictured in 2018
Jena Sims Koepka is a former teen beauty queen and is now a CEO of a non-profit organization – and she’s also married to a PGA star
Jena, 34, founded Pageant of Hope – a non-profit organization which ‘aims to raise awareness and support in giving children and teenagers who face serious challenges the opportunity to shine and be celebrated for who they are,’ according to its She is also a model, and has gained more than 250,000 followers on Jena – who is an actress and is most known for her role in the Sharknado movies – is often photographed supporting her PGA star husband, Brooks Koepka, at his golf tournaments.
‘He’s so talented. It’s so much fun to watch him,’ she gushed to in 2019.
The couple – who met at the 2015 Masters – announced their engagement in April 2021, after more than five years together, with Jena posting several images of the happy couple on Instagram, while writing: ‘Forever is no joke.’
In another post, she called it the ‘best day of her life.’
Jena, 34, founded and is the CEO of non-profit organization Pageant of Hope
Speaking about her inclusion in the 2023 Swim Search Final, the model and entrepreneur described it as bringing her ‘one step closer to her biggest dream in life’
The pair went on to marry in 2022 in lavish ceremony in Turks and Caicos – and prior to the wedding, Jena revealed that her partner had been heavily involved in the planning of the event.
‘Believe it or not, he has some strong opinions… Not all obvious ones either!’ she wrote on Instagram.’I always run things by him, he has enjoyed it so far… Makes me even more excited to see him excited!’
Jena is an alumni of Belmont University and was Miss Teen Georgia USA in 2007.
Speaking about her inclusion in the 2023 Swim Search Final, the model and entrepreneur described it as bringing her ‘one step closer to her biggest dream in life’.
‘My journey with Sports Illustrated Swimsuit began in the late 90s when I saw Tyra on the cover in that iconic polka dotted bikini.It was my earliest memory of what true beauty felt like,’ she wrote.
‘SI Swimsuit is not about the body, but WHO’s in that body. I’m touched beyond belief to be one step closer to my biggest dream in life.’
She went on: ‘This community of bad*** women had already changed my life for the better, so I can’t wait to see what the next steps hold!’
Jena is married to pro golfer Brooks Koepka, with whom she tied the knot in 2022 – one year after he popped the question (right)
Adison Justis scouted aged 17 as a model and also works on criminal justice reform cases
The model works on criminal justice reform and wrongful conviction cases, researching ‘innocence claims to determine the viability of wrongful conviction cases, pushing cases for media exposure in hopes of finding a law firm to take the case pro bono.’
And she also appears to have the full support of her boss, Lori, who shared a touching message about her intern on Instagram after she was announced in the Final 12.
‘Congrats to my beautiful intern and friend Adison Justis who was just named top 12 for Sports Illustrated Swim! Drop dead beauty, brains and sweetness,’ Lori said, sharing two photos of Adison.
Adison, now 21, was first scouted by Wilhelmina Models at just 17, but when she isn’t modeling she’s an intern for executive producer Lori Rothschild Ansaldi
The model works on criminal justice reform and wrongful conviction cases
‘That’s my girl! (And yes, her face is also all over billboards in LA!)’
Adison responded: ‘LORI!!! I love you THANK YOU!!! You’re seriously the best. I’m so grateful for you and so lucky to learn from you.
‘You are the kindest, most beautiful & hard working person I know!! THANK YOU.’
She also has a two-year college degree under her belt.
Acacia McBride earned her college degree before pursuing a modeling career in Los Angeles
After earning her Bachelor of Arts in communications from Atlanta’s Clark University, Acacia set her sights on Los Angeles to pursue her modeling career.
Originally from Starkville, Mississippi, the 25-year-old , with more than 88,000 followers, is also an autism advocate.
You may have also seen her in campaigns such as Sephora for Patrick Ta, Too Faced Cosmetics and Beauty Blender.
She’s described by the publication as ‘a lover of all things beauty, fashion and philanthropy, and is an advocate for the special needs community.’
After earning her Bachelor of Arts in communications from Atlanta’s Clark University, Acacia set her sights on Los Angeles to pursue her modeling career
Originally from Starkville, Mississippi, the 25-year-old digital creator, with more than 88,000 followers, is also an autism advocate
Penny Lane was discovered at 13 when she felt like a ‘lanky misfit’ – and was told she needed to lose weight and a breast reduction
The 27-year-old, from Cheshire, England, had a rough introduction to the industry.
‘I was the tallest teen in my class, none of the boys were anywhere near as tall as me and I just felt like a lanky misfit.I was so self-conscious – there was a permanent feeling that I stuck out like a sore thumb,’ she said.
The 27-year-old, from Cheshire, England, had a rough introduction to the modeling industry
She describes living in London as her ‘rock bottom,’ with the industry demanding she ‘lose weight and even consider a breast reduction’
After spending her time between Australia and the UK in her teens, Penny decided to move to London and Istanbul to pursue modeling.
She describes living in London as her ‘rock bottom,’ with the industry demanding she ‘lose weight and even consider a breast reduction,’ SI Swimsuit reported.
This ‘led her to develop an unhealthy relationship with her body and compromise her fertility…and [she] became a certified holistic health coach.’
Penny is passionate about raising awareness about mental health and body image issues.
Mahalia Handley has been modeling for 13 years and is outspoken about her experience living with PCOS
Hailing from Darwin, Australia, the 30-year-old has been modeling for 13 years not just Down Under, but in the UK and the US as well.
She identifies as half Maori and Irish, according to SI Swimsuit, and started Shine4Diversity, a group aimed at changing the fashion media landscape in Australia.
She’s also spoken about body dysmorphia.
Hailing from Darwin, Australia, the 30-year-old has been modeling for 13 years not just Down Under, but in the UK and the US as well
Mahalia (pictured with model Robyn Lawley) shares candid insights into her experiences in the fashion industry and as a person living with polycystic ovary syndrome
The Australian model has a business degree from Curtin University, with a focus on communications and perspectives with indigenous businesses.
She wrote about her PCOS for , detailing how she and her family were left devastated for months after she was misdiagnosed with cervical cancer.
‘I was first diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) when I was 22 years old.It happened in a traumatic way,’ Mahalia said.
‘During a routine pap screening, abnormal cells had been detected, and the doctor straight out told me that I had cervical cancer. It was devastating news. It’s one of the only times in my life I’ve seen my dad cry and my mother distraught.’
Eventually a specialist diagnosed her with PCOS.
‘It took five minutes for her to state that I didn’t have cervical cancer.It was fantastic news but I hated what the other doctor’s “personal opinion” diagnosis did to my family for months,’ Mahalia wrote.
Berkleigh Wright is a tech industry businesswoman and a Denver Broncos cheerleader
The 28-year-old is from Lawrence, Kansas, but now lives in Denver, Colorado.
She works as a technical account manager and analyst, with degrees from the University of Kansas in psychology, strategic communications and business.
Berkleigh is also a tech industry businesswoman and a Denver Broncos cheerleader.
Her enthusiasm for books has also sparked her starting up a book vlog called Bookin’ It With Berk.
She has more than across two Instagram accounts.
Berkleigh works with the Children’s Hospital of Colorado, Habitat For Humanity, Dare To Cheer and the Junior Denver Broncos Cheerleaders.
The 28-year-old is from Lawrence, Kansas but now lives in Denver, Colorado
Berkleigh is also a Denver Broncos cheerleader and a tech industry businesswoman
Jenna Kutcher runs a ‘seven-figure empire’ and is a New York Times bestseller
She has millions of adoring fans as the host of The Goal Digger Podcast.
She gave up her ‘windowless office corporate job’ aged 23 and bought a $300 camera on Craigslist.
Jenna , 34, has written a New York Times bestseller, How Are You, Really?, as well as being a digital marketer and mother-of-two
She gave up her ‘windowless office corporate job’ aged 23 and bought a $300 camera on Craigslist
But she wanted to work from ‘her cozy craftsman home in her yoga pants’ and that’s how her podcast, which offers ‘practical advice to other women entrepreneurs,’ was born. And now it has more than 680 episodes with 85 million downloads.
The entrepreneur is from Duluth, Minnesota, and now runs a ‘seven-figure empire.’
‘Her current mission is to help women harness the power to take control of their lives,’ according to SI Swimsuit.
Jenna also speaks out about body image and writes in her book: ‘Our bodies aren’t personality Tupperware, waiting to be shoved and stacked and squeezed into smaller spaces.
‘Our bodies are soft, uniquely shaped, hairy-legged beings that need wide, vast space to birth dreams. To live long, to leave legacies. To do the work that ignites us in any and every way. To rest and enjoy what we’ve earned. To heal. To experience life.’
Brittney Nicole joined the Navy but only started modeling a year ago – and has seen success, walking NYFW
In these countries, she built schools and runaways among other projects.
She then worked for the Navy as a civilian employee and is relatively new to the world of modeling, an interest that she only started chasing a year ago.
And already she’s started to see success, walking New York Fashion Week and landing a magazine cover.
SI Swimsuit says her motto is: ‘Life is too short to not go after your dreams. Your dreams are within reach, so go get them.’
After studying psychology at Augusta State, Brittney joined the Navy, a job that saw her stationed in Gulfport, Mississippi, but took her all over the world
She is relatively new to the world of modeling, an interest that she only started chasing a year ago
Nana Meriwether is a former Miss USA who now runs her own low-alcohol wine company
The 37-year-old is no stranger to the spotlight after being a former Miss USA.
Nana, who was born in South Africa and grew up in Potomac, Maryland, now runs Navina, a company that makes low-alcohol wine alternatives.
She was named runner-up in 2012, but after Miss USA Olivia Culpo won Miss Universe that same year and had to relinquish the role, Nana stepped in
Nana competed as Miss Maryland in 2012. She pictured during the pageant
The idea was birthed while she was ‘sitting in a tree on a permaculture farm in Costa Rica on the heels of writing a year long column about wellness and what makes for great health and happiness.’
She has worked for blockchain software tech company ConsenSys, and written for publications such as Vanity Fair, Vogue Australia and Harper’s Bazaar.
Nana also co-founded the Meriwether Foundation, which focuses on ‘improving health, empowering communities and alleviating poverty’ in Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa.