How Sarafina El-Badry Nance Says SI Swim Search Allowed Her to Fully Embrace Her Body

The astrophysicist and analog astronaut was a finalist in last year’s open casting call competition.
Sarafina El-Badry Nance

Sarafina El-Badry Nance was photographed by Yu Tsai in Dominican Republic.

Sarafina El-Badry Nance, a 2022 Swim Search finalist, recently talked to TODAY about her journey as an astrophysicist and how she’s inspiring the next generation of young girls to pursue careers in STEM. Additionally, the analog astronaut opened up about her experience with SI Swimsuit and the brand’s open casting call.

“I think that the stereotypes of what a scientist looks like and what a body in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit looks like is embedded in my mind, right? In everybody’s minds,” Nance stated in the Monday segment.

Her photo shoot in the Dominican Republic last year took place after Nance had a preventative double mastectomy. She opted to undergo the procedure due to a genetic cancer risk, and by doing so, reduced her risk of developing breast cancer from 87% to less than 5%.

“It was recognizing in myself, I can do this, and to my utter surprise, I got a call that I was selected and the entire time that I was there was so empowering, I got to embrace my body in a way that I hadn’t gotten to post-surgery,” Nance reflected of her Swim Search experience during the interview segment.

Nance chronicles her story further in a brand new memoir, Starstruck: A Memoir of Astrophysics and Finding Light in the Dark, which is available today.

Read more about how Nance is leading the charge as a women’s health advocate here, and how she’s working to make the future of STEM more equitable here.

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Cara O’Bleness


Cara is a trending news writer/editor for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. A passionate writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience in print and online media, she loves storytelling and believes that words have the power to change the world. Prior to joining the team, Cara worked as a writer and editor across a number of content verticals, including food, lifestyle, health and wellness, and small business and entrepreneurship. In her free time, Cara loves reading, spending time with her family and making her way through Michigan’s many microbreweries. She is a graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism.