SI Swimsuit Unveils the Trailblazing Winners of the 2023 Swim Search Open Casting Call

This year’s result is an unprecedented one.
Achieng Agutu

Achieng Agutu.


After much deliberation among the SI Swimsuit team, your 2023 SI Swim Search winners have finally been chosen! In an unprecedented move, each of the seven finalists in this year’s open casting call have been named co-winners of the Swim Search, and every single one of them will return to the fold as rookies in the 2024 SI Swimsuit Issue.

The Swim Search is an annual open casting call that allows aspiring and established models to connect with the SI Swimsuit team in the hopes of being featured in the annual issue. It has produced a number of talented women who have gone on to do incredible things with the brand. 

Camille Kostek was named co-winner of the first Swim Search in 2018 (alongside Haley Kalil) and went on to land the magazine’s cover the following year. Additionally, this year’s 2023 SI Swimsuit Issue cover model Brooks Nader was declared winner of the Swim Search just four years earlier. Katie Austin and Christen Harper were named co-winners of the open casting call in 2021, and went on to be co-Rookies of the Year in 2022. These women have proved the power of the Swim Search and that the sky really is the limit.

Each 2024 rookie was gifted a custom swimsuit from fellow SI Swimsuit model Nicole Williams English’s swimwear line, Nia Lynn. You can snag your own Sports Illustrated Swim bikini from Nia Lynn here. While it won’t say “2024 Rookie,” it will read “Sports Illustrated Swim” and it comes in a variety of gorgeous metallics. 

Just in case you haven’t had the chance to meet the incredible group of 2023 Swim Search finalists yet, allow us to introduce to you the first seven rookies in next year’s 60th anniversary magazine.

Achieng Agutu

A content creator, model and confidence advocate from Kenya, Agutu uses her platform to empower her following through her lifestyle content as a Black woman in fashion. She has a double master’s in international marketing and business analytics and speaks four languages fluently. 

Agutu, 26, has aspired to be in the SI Swimsuit Issue ever since she moved from Kenya to the U.S. at the age of 13. “The brand truly empowers, motivates and validates the voices of all women,” she says. “With my own platforms, I’ve tried to do just that as well, so... it feels that my long journey to get to this point is all worth it. It’s surreal and magical!”

Meet Achieng Agutu

Nina Cash

Nina Cash

Nina Cash

A native of Long Beach, Calif., Cash is a retired university associate dean and model. She has a doctorate in educational leadership, with an emphasis in higher education and adult learning, and more than 30 years of experience in education, training and workforce development.

The 57-year-old mom of three calls her modeling pursuit her “encore career,” and she’s thoroughly enjoying defying people’s expectations of her along the way.

“On the surface, society’s label of me as it stands is: ‘a minority female, disabled, senior citizen retiree.’ (A side note: ‘disabled’ because I have diabetes),” she says. “Of course, this makes me chuckle—loudly! I am not that label and, therefore, am ready to be a part of the changes I wish to see, and SI Swim Search [is] the perfect partner to do so with.”

Meet Nina Cash

Sharina Gutierrez

Sharina Gutierrez

Sharina Gutierrez.

A proud mom of three, Gutierrez is a model, sound guide and self-love advocate from Los Angeles. The 33-year-old is also the founder of Mama Mantra, a community for fellow mothers.

While Gutierrez first met the SI Swimsuit team 10 years ago, she finally decided to throw her hat in the ring for this year’s open casting call.

“All the times you failed and made mistakes are going to lead you to the biggest wins of your life,” she advises. “Don’t ever let those moments define you. You are born to be different. Don’t spend time trying to blend in. Embrace who you are and allow yourself to soar. You are going to love everything you have ever doubted yourself, because you know more than anyone who you truly are inside. Keep dreaming no matter how crazy [your dreams] may seem, because you will achieve them.”

Meet Sharina Gutierrez

Penny Lane

Penny Lane

Penny Lane.

A Brittish model and certified holistic health coach, 27-year-old Lane has long been a fan of the SI Swimsuit brand. She recalls feeling empowered by the images she saw in the magazine at the age of 15, and immediately began dreaming of seeing herself in the pages.

“I was so taken with their confidence and beauty that I cut out their pictures and proudly displayed them on my wall, dreaming that I too could one day be like them,” Lane says. “Looking back, I now realize that the power of my manifesting was at play even then, as little did I know that my dream would eventually lead to this moment.” 

Meet Penny Lane

Brittney Nicole

Brittney Nicole

Brittney Nicole.

A Naval contractor from Georgia, Nicole began to pursue a career in modeling after she completed her contract and worked for the Navy as a civilian. Nicole, 32, has since walked the New York Fashion Week runway and even auditioned for America’s Next Top Model.

She counts SI Swimsuit icon Tyra Banks as one of her biggest inspirations. “She represented so much to me as a young Black model paving the way for others to come,” Nicole says of Banks’s historic 1997 cover. “Watching her throughout the years working with the brand motivated me to pursue the same.”

Meet Brittney Nicole

Jena Sims

Jena Sims

Jena Sims.

A non-profit CEO, fashion designer and new mom, Sims strutted the Miami Swim Week runway while pregnant in July. Shortly thereafter, she and her husband, pro golfer Brooks Koepka, welcomed their baby boy, Crew.

The 34-year-old puts on the annual Pageant of Hope™, the most inclusive pageant in the world that focuses on confidence, self-esteem and appreciation of inner beauty for children and teens. “Helping these incredible participants from all over the world feel beautiful on the inside so closely parallels the mission behind SI Swimsuit: It’s not about the body, but who’s in that body,” she says. “My passion is helping people and spreading joy. Together, I know we can make a positive impact in the world.”

Meet Jena Sims

Berkleigh Wright

Berkleigh Wright

Berkleigh Wright.

A 29-year-old technical account manager and analyst by day, Wright is also a cheerleader for the Denver Broncos. The Kansas native is an avid reader who chronicles her reading journey with a vlog, “Bookin’ It With Berk.” (One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle is her No. 1 pick.)

Wright works closely with several charitable organizations and hopes to inspire the younger generation through her work with SI Swimsuit. “Being a member of the Sports Illustrated family and having this powerful platform would help me further myself as a mentor and reach a wider audience of our youth,” she explains. “A mentor that demonstrates to our younger generation that you are not limited by your external factors, but rather unlimited by the person you can become from the inside out.”

Meet Berkleigh Wright

Throughout the last several months, the more we got to know these incredible women, the more convinced we were that each of them had earned their spot in the 2024 SI Swimsuit Issue.

From attending magazine launch week events in New York City and Hollywood, Fla., to walking the Miami Swim Week runway together, it became evident that these seven women had been chosen as finalists for a reason. They embody what the SI Swimsuit brand stands for by being each other’s biggest cheerleaders and supporting one another’s professional pursuits while using their individual platforms to make positive change in the world.

All seven women received the exciting news that they’d be posing for the 2024 SI Swimsuit Issue as rookies on a Zoom call with editor in chief MJ Day—watch the clip below.

Make sure to follow SI Swimsuit on YouTube!


Published
Cara O’Bleness

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.