SI Swimsuit has announced the winners of their annual Rookie of the Year and for the for the first time ever, there are two winners. Each year the team honors a model for her debut appearance in the most recent issues. Both Katie Austin and Christen Harper are the winners of 2022 and thus will be invited back to be photographed for next year’s issue.
In the 2022 issue there were six rookies in addition to Austin and Harper, Cindy Kimberly, Duckie Thot, Georgina Burke, Kamie Crawford, Maye Musk and Olivia Ponton.
SI Swimsuit Editor-In-Chief MJ Day surprised Harper and Austin with the news via video call.
“This whole brand is what you guys represent—fabulous people supporting each other, doing their thing bigger and better all the time,” she said. “Really motivated, smart individuals who keep creating opportunities for themselves and keep growing. You do it for each other, and you do it for random strangers and you do it for us. It’s pretty awesome. There’s never been two more worthy people.”
Austin and Harper were both discovered by the SI Swim team via Swim Search 2021, the magazine’s open casting call. They participated in a photoshoot alongside 11 finalists in Atlantic City, and were announced as Swim Search co-winners last September, securing them a spot in the 2022 issue.
“The shoot is something you can’t really put into words,” said Austin of her first 2022 shoot in Montenegro. “I cried when I got home just because it’s something you dream about for so many years, and then you realize it’s actually happening, and it’s indescribable.”
Harper was just as excited and emotional after co-winning the Swim Search 2021. “I saw Kate Upton, and I saw someone that looked like me,” she said on the 2022 SI Swimsuit Issue launch event. “It gave me confidence in myself and gave me the confidence to move through life and pursue a modeling career. I hope I get to have that effect on someone and make them feel good about themselves.”
SI Swimsuit has just opened submissions for the 2023 Swim Search open casting.