Swim Search Top 12 Finalist Nina Cash on Her Last Minute Application and How Kathy Jacobs Inspired Her

The 56-year-old model stood out during the magazine’s open casting call this year.
Nina Cash.

Nina Cash.

Nina Cash started this year off with a major decision: applying to Swim Search, SI Swimsuit’s open casting call, on the very last day applications were accepted. She was on vacation in Australia when her husband snapped some photos of her on the beach and convinced her to submit a video on a whim.

“So, I cobbled together footage and this candid shot that he had,” Cash, 56, explained to Fox News Digital. “And then I did a really quick video and I spliced it together. I sent it in and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be a miracle and super cool if I got this?’”

When the retired university associate dean and model from Long Beach, Calif., got the email earlier this month that she had made it to the Final 12, she could barely believe it.

“My reaction was utter shock,” she said. “I’m thrilled, but shocked that I’ve made it this far—but happily shocked. And I’m taking it all in. I feel like a 5-year-old on the night before Christmas with all the wonderful anticipation, the butterflies in my stomach, the nervousness. It’s such a great feeling, and I’m embracing it.”

Thousands of women apply to the Swim Search each year and 12 are named finalists, while six go on to walk the runway during Miami Swim Week.

In 2021, 57-year-old Kathy Jacobs was named the oldest SI Swimsuit rookie and became an inspiration to Cash.

“There is no expiration date. You can keep going and going,” Cash said. “You can smooth over those road bumps. And that’s what I want to do. It’s never too late.”

She added that she thinks she is the best version of herself today, in her 50s, because she has lived life. Her husband is her biggest cheerleader and her three daughters are always telling her to “slay the gray.”

“I think beauty does blossom with age,” she continued. “People talk about laugh lines—I have life lines. I’m not going to get rid of those life lines because that means I have lived life, and I’ve also been a lifeline to other people because of my age and my wisdom, my skills and my abilities. I have lived that. So I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

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Ananya Panchal


Ananya Panchal is a NYC-based Lifestyle & Trending News writer at SI Swimsuit. Before joining the Swim team, the Boston University Alum worked for culture & entertainment beats at Bustle, The San Francisco Chronicle and the TODAY Show. When Ananya is not writing or doom-scrolling on social media, she can be found playing sudoku, rewatching One Tree Hill or trying new restaurants. She's also a coffee and chocolate (separately) enthusiast.