At 28, Katie Austin is a force to be reckoned with. Having played lacrosse at USC, where she graduated with a communications degree, she channeled her background as a Division I athlete into a full-fledged fitness brand with 1.5 million social media followers, a top-rated app and a popular lifestyle variety podcast called “Austin AF.” That led to partnerships with top global brands such as Amazon and Nike, as well as appearances on the TODAY Show, Rachael Ray and others. Now, the Virginia native can add another accolade to her impressive resume: SI Swimsuit rookie. Austin was the first model to be photographed for the 2022 issue.
After going through the annual Swim Search process over the past year, Austin was named as a winner and flew to Montenegro for her first photo shoot. “The shoot is something you can’t really put into words,” says Austin. “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.”
But the dream comes with hard work. The founder of the Get Fit With Katie training platform revealed some behind-the-scenes details about what it takes to pull one of these shoots together.
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“The thrill of the entire shoot day keeps your adrenaline high for days, but at the same time, I think people need to know it’s hard work,” says Austin. “I was the first to shoot for 2022—and it was my first real shoot with [SI]—so it was definitely nerve-racking. The fitting was an unreal experience, trying on 50 bikinis for MJ Day and the team, taking the iconic Polaroids, and then wearing all the favorite suits the next day in beautiful locations across Montenegro.”
She adds: “The shoot day is totally for you, the adventure day is created around you, and the content is focused on making you feel your best self. Not to mention, the scenery was out of a movie.”
Austin also explained how it was a huge plus to be shooting with photographer James Macari. “He makes you feel so comfortable and confident,” says Austin. “He knew I was a rookie, so he played to my strengths. And my favorite hair and makeup team, DJ Quintero and Christyna Kay, made me feel like a goddess.”
Now that the shoot is finished, we’re bound to see more from the fitness entrepreneur. “As an athlete my entire life, and I have always done everything I possibly can, across all of my platforms, to empower women to be their true, authentic selves,” says Austin. “I’ve always championed that strong is sexy. I can’t wait to build a community with SI Swimsuit.”