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SI Swim Search: Christen Harper

Name: Christen Harper
Hometown: Valencia, Calif.
Occupation: Model

What inspired you to try out for SI Swim Search?

Sports Illustrated has been a lifetime goal of mine since I was a young girl. For so many years I hoped to get a casting in New York with SI but I never quite got there, so I decided SI Swim Search was the perfect way to take things into my own hands and go after my biggest dream.

What would it mean to you to win Swim Search?

I would not be where I am today if I wasn't inspired by the first Swimsuit issue I picked up when I was 13. Winning SI Swim Search is so much more to me than just taking beautiful photos, it's about chasing your dreams and being a part of something much greater than yourself. It would mean the world to me to be a part of such an incredible movement of women and to one day be an inspiration and a positive role model to a young girl picking up the magazine.

What has been the best part about being a part of the Swim Search community?

The best part about being a part of the Swim Search community is connecting on a daily basis with the most positive, confident and uplifting people. I have never been a part of a community that is more inspiring and I feel so lucky to have met such amazing women with whom I will have lifelong friendships.

What is your favorite SI Swimsuit memory?

I would always be so excited for the issue to come out and count down the days until I could pick it up. I remember rushing to the newsstand to pick up a copy after school and reading the magazine from front to back about 100 times like it was my job. My favorite and most memorable cover was the 2011 issue with Irina Shayk -- I had it taped to my school binder so I could look at it every single day

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What would you tell your younger self?

I would love to go back and tell my younger self to stop wasting time worrying about what everybody else thinks and to spend more time discovering your own goals and dreams and then go after them unapologetically.

How are you preparing for the SI Swim Search photo shoot?

I am preparing for the SI Swim Search photo shoot by just continuing to wake up everyday and do whatever feels best for my body. Whether that's working out or taking a night to eat pizza with friends, I'm going to enjoy this exciting time leading up to the shoot. I love that SI Swim encourages everyone to be themselves so that is exactly what I'm going to do!

Who was the first person you told the good news to?

The first person I told the news to was my boyfriend who has known since the day he met me how much of a dream being a part of Sports Illustrated is to me. He has been so supportive throughout the entire process and always encourages me to go after my dreams.