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SI Swim Search: Summer Wilson

Name: Summer Wilson
Hometown: Greenville, NC
Occupation: Medical Sales Representative and Former NFL Cheerleader

What inspired you to try out for SI Swim Search?

I thought, Why the hell not? It for sure felt like a crazy idea to do at first as I had never shot professionally in a bikini, but I don’t regret it one bit! I loved representing a brand as a cheerleader in the NFL, but I felt now was the time to finally represent myself and be my own brand. At 30 years old it’s not too late -- dreams don’t have a shelf life and neither does beauty. I want to inspire, make people laugh and motivate others to be the best versions of themselves while being authentically themselves.

What would it mean to you to win SI Swim Search?

Lord have mercy, it would mean everything - and I do mean everything -- to be alongside other incredible humans with brains and momentum who are breaking down the walls of the alternative narrative. I don’t have a huge following but I would love to have a platform to bring a positive and inspiring message to the world. That no one is perfect and it's okay to laugh at yourself…all the time. I want to be a strong light and ignite people who want to better themselves. I want to get people emotionally charged, to let them know you can really do what you set your mind to in life. I want to be a strong role model who is very much so not perfect but who shows that hard work, staying hungry, true, authentic and ambitious can seriously change your life.

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

Without a doubt, the other incredible people I have met during this process, especially during a pandemic, has given me an outlet, something to look forward to every day and new friends to connect with about the craziness at the time. It was awesome to bounce ideas for challenges off of one another and have fresh faces with different perspectives to talk to when things got stressful. I learned a lot about myself over this time. I challenged myself and got more intentional with my posts rather than just some willy-nilly photo with a witty caption. I found inspo from others. I grew from this. I really did.

What is your favorite SI Swimsuit memory?
Tyra Banks. The first African American woman to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated. How iconic! How historic! I just feel so, so, so honored to be here with a brand who not only breaks the mold but also makes sure it sticks. That this is, should be, and will be the norm. Ah, chills...

Who is your role model?
My family. My parents are the best around. My mom is my dad's best friend (and vice versa) -- they are loyal, kind, funny, genuine. I’m almost certain my mom has never told a lie and my dad and I share the same humor. They have always supported my dreams and never told me anything was too crazy or tried to diffuse my passions in any way. I appreciate them for that and thank them for letting me always be me. I’ve always said that the girl who gets to marry my brother is a lucky lady. He seriously has the biggest giving heart ever and I am so happy he is my brother. They all collectively have raised me into the person I am today. I am so thankful to have had such amazing role models in my life growing up.

What would you tell your younger self?
How do you know you can't be great at something if you don't go for it first? Every person you idolize for being great at whatever they do did their “greatness” for the first time once. You are literally limitless. A fortress of untapped potential. GO FOR IT. Curiosity didn’t kill the cat; curiosity made the dream come alive.

How are you preparing for the SI Swim Search photo shoot?
I am a huge Peloton girl! I got my bike right at the beginning of the pandemic and have been an addict ever since. The platform actually is so much more than just the bike so I am able to do full workouts right from my living room. I have my schedule planned out for a variety of daily exercises during the week mixing in Tae Bo, spin, weights, full body, running and barre. I will be making sure that I eat healthy during the week but will not rob myself of a few McDonald's cheat meals here and there.

Who was the first person you told the good news to?
My boyfriend, Mike! He was so freaking excited and has fully supported me through this whole process. You gotta get yourself a hype man, for sure!