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Sports Illustrated’s 50 Greatest Swimsuit Models (10-1)


This week, Sports Illustrated will be counting down its Top 50 all-time models, 10 per day, with the winner being revealed on Friday in conjunction with SI’s Summer of Swim Event at Wynn Las Vegas.

COMPLETE LIST:No. 50-41 | No. 40-31 | No. 30-21 | No. 20-11

10. Paulina Porizkova


Hometown: Prostejov, Czechoslovakia

Years in Swimsuit Issue: 7 (1983-86, 1989, 1992, 2004)


In 1984, Porizkova, a Czech native, was the first woman from Central Europe to be featured on the SI Swimsuit cover. She appeared on the cover again the following year, making her only the second model to ever appear on back-to-back covers (Christie Brinkley was the first). Porizkova got her start as a model in Paris in the early '80s.

Random Fact: In addition to TV appearances on America's Next Top Model, Dancing With the Stars and As The World Turn and Desperate Housewives, Porizkova was featured on an episode of Celebrity Ghost Stories.

Tweet us your thoughts about our greatest swimsuit model picks at #Swim50


9. Bar Refaeli


Hometown: Hod HaSharon, Israel

Years in Swimsuit Issue: 5 (2007-2010, 2012)

Social:Twitter | Facebook

Refaeli, featured on the 2009 cover, is the first Israeli model to be featured in the Swimsuit issue. She appeared in her first commercial at eight months and continued her ascent until making her first Swimsuit appearance in 2007, when she was featured with the band Aerosmith.

Random Fact: Bar has it in her blood to be a model. Her mother, also known by her maiden name of Tzipi Levine, was a successful model.


On her best swimsuit memory:"I specifically remember two shoots that have always stuck in my head. One was the first year I worked with Sports Illustrated- I shot with Aerosmith. That was a blast!

The other was when I shot a story with athletes- I love sports and I got to shoot with Rafael Nadal, Michael Phelps, and Chris Paul! They all were very nice and it felt great to work with them.

I love how the pictures came out!"

On how swimsuit impacted her career:"Working for Sports Illustrated was one of the biggest steps in my career, especially being on the cover. You receive immediate recognition. Your name is everywhere. It's amazing how after so many years, the swim issue is still one of the most demanded and sought after issues!"

On her favorite all-time top swimsuit model:"I've always loved Tyra Banks. Her pictures always showed more than just a pretty face. She is alive, happy, and radiant."

Tweet us your thoughts about our greatest swimsuit model picks at #Swim50


8. Christie Brinkley


Hometown: Monroe, Mich.

Years in Swimsuit Issue: 8 (1975-1976, 1978-1981, 1989, 2004)

Brinkley gained worldwide attention after three consecutive Swimsuit covers from 1979-81. She was first discovered by a photographer while at a post office in Paris and was then introduced to a modeling agency. Brinkley was inducted into the Swimsuit Hall of Fame in the 40th Anniversary Issue.

Random Fact: In addition to her three Swimsuit covers, Brinkley has been featured on over 500 magazine covers during her career.


On her best swimsuit memory:"I went to the Baja Penisula  in  Mexico, Bahia in Brazil (the beaches, the markets, the music … I fell under Brazil's magic spell!) Captiva Island in Florida, The British Virgin Islands, on Safari in Kenya, and Lamu just off Kenya's coast (that was an exciting trip complete with charging elephants and Hemingway's tracker teaching us the skills to survive in the wild … which I used to calm the elephant herd that wanted to rip the heads off our well-dressed bikini bodies! … not usually a good career move for a model).

On her favorite location:"Of all the incredible places I was fortunate to have visited I think quite possibly it was the gorgeous, seductively spectacular, Seychelle Islands. Each island had its own character, the sand was pale pink, the translucent water turquoise and fairy turns filled a sky that was always sunny yet contained towering, sculptural clouds. Alluring islands dotted the horizon and the night sky was filled with stars that shimmered so bright they beaconed us each night out to lie back on the sand and gaze up at the falling stars, milky way, and ponder life's mysteries! I could cry thinking of that beauty that so few will ever see … if only everyone could gaze up into that sky and see such perspective evoking beauty the world would be a better place where we would all feel like one big family of man!"

On how SI helped her career as a model:"I was living in Paris when my first Sports Illustrated issue came out. I got a message to go pick up an issue at the International  newsstand …. there was a picture of me in foaming white water with a very skimpy bathing suit that revealed my Derriere from the side (gasp!) … my life was never he same again …. Being in  Sports Illustrated opened up the other half of the world to me …. men! Suddenly everybody seemed to know my name … they wanted me on talk shows like Johnny Carson's The Late Show (see? I am not afraid to date myself! LOL!)…. My first stamp of  "Seal of Approval " was Ford model….The Sports Illustrated Seal of approval is HUGE for a model!!!!! Thank you Sports Illustrated! MUAH!"

On her choice for all-time top swimsuit model:"I think you should ask your readers not us. But if you ask my son he'll tell you in a nano second … Kate Upton!"

Tweet us your thoughts about our greatest swimsuit model picks at #Swim50


7. Brooklyn Decker


Hometown: Kettering, Ohio

Years in Swimsuit Issue: 6 (2006-2011)

Social:Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Decker, an Ohio native, was first featured in the 2006 Swimsuit issue. She then appeared in six consecutive issues, including the 2010 cover, and hosted a behind-the-scenes television special in 2007. She will be starring in the CBS sitcom Friends With Better Lives this fall.

Random Fact: Decker is married American retired tennis pro Andy Roddick. They first met after Roddick saw Decker in the Swimsuit issue, and had his agent contact her for a date.


On her favorite swimsuit memory:"Shooting in the Maldives with Walter Iooss. It was my fifth or sixth year, so at that point the SI crew had become a traveling family to me. Walter and I clicked immediately. We just ran around the beach all day long and told stories at night. That turned out to be the year that I was on the cover. It was the most beautiful ocean I have ever seen in my life. It was a pretty special shoot."

On her career since first swimsuit appearance:"SI made my career. Truly. They are one of the smartest companies out there because they invest in their girls. They gave me a show with Dr. Z ("She Says, Z Says") when I was 19, making weekly football picks. From there I got my first TV pilot...then it just snowballed. SI Swimsuit scouts unknown talent, turns them into brands, and shortly after everyone else catches on!"

On her favorite all-time swimsuit model:"It has to be Marisa Miller. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that when I came on as a rookie, she was one of the nicest people I had met and continues to be supportive and wonderful to this day. (Not to mention her perfect abs/booty/body- don't even get me started on that!)"

Tweet us your thoughts about our greatest swimsuit model picks at #Swim50


6. Cheryl Tiegs


Hometown: Breckenridge, Minn.

SI Swimsuit Recommends

Years in Swimsuit Issue: 11 (1970, 1972, 1974-1978, 1983, 1989, 1995, 2004)

Social:Twitter | Facebook

This Swimsuit Hall of Famer has been featured on three Swimsuit covers and was widely considered the first supermodel. Her fame also landed her on the cover of mainstream magazines such as People (four times) and Time (three times), which led many to consider her the Golden Girl of the '70s.

Random Fact: Tiegs was the first supermodel to enter the retail world when she started a signature line of clothing and accessories for Sears.


On her favorite swimsuit location: "I loved the photo shoot in Brazil. When I was in a canoe on the Amazon heading bac to the holtel at sunset -- I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. We'd had a really successful day and to sit back and enjoy it all was simply magical."

How SI helped her career:"I totally get reconginzed for being in Sports Illustrated. Are you kidding:)) I can't get away from the white fishnet bathing suit!"

On her favorite all-time SI Swimsuit model:"My mother always said: 'If you don't vote for yourself, why would you expect anyone else to.' So. Me"

Tweet us your thoughts about our greatest swimsuit model picks at #Swim50


5. Heidi Klum


Hometown: Bergisch Gladbach, West Germany

Years in Swimsuit Issue: 8 (1998-2002, 2004, 2006, 2008)

Social:Twitter | Facebook

Klum, a successful businesswoman, designer, TV producer, and model, was featured on the 1998 cover of the Swimsuit issue. Klum started modeling after winning a national modeling contest at age 19 and accepted a contract in April of 1992. She is currently a judge on America's Got Talent.

Random Fact: Heidi was nominated for an Emmy for her work on Project Runway in 2008.

Tweet us your thoughts about our greatest swimsuit model picks at #Swim50


4. Tyra Banks


Hometown: Inglewood, Calif.

Years Swimsuit Issue: 5 (1993, 1996-1998, 2004)

Social:Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Banks started modeling at age 15 and played the girlfriend of Will Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. She was the first African-American model to be featured on the Swimsuit cover (1996 and 1997). She may be best known for her role as host of America’s Next Top Model, as well as was a host of her own talk show, The Tyra Banks Show. She has also appeared in various television shows, films, music videos, and is a published author.

Random Fact:Banks released a single with NBA player Kobe Bryant, entitled "K.O.B.E."

Tweet us your thoughts about our greatest swimsuit model picks at #Swim50


3. Kate Upton


Hometown: St. Joseph, Mich.

Years in Swimsuit Issue: 3 (2011-2013)

Social:Twitter | Facebook

Upton, who won the 2011 SI Swimsuit Rookie of the Year, has appeared on the last two swimsuit covers. The Antarctica cover shoot from 2013 was the first time a fashion shoot has taken place on that continent. She is currently filming "The Other Woman," scheduled for release in 2014, with Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Nicki Minaj.

Random Fact: Kate Upton was an equestrian and showed at the national level for the APHA. She has won three APHA Reserve World Championships.

Tweet us your thoughts about our greatest swimsuit model picks at #Swim50


2. Kathy Ireland


Hometown: Glendale, Calif.

Years in Swimsuit Issue: 12 (1984-1994, 1996)

Social:Twitter | Instagram

Ireland, CEO and Chief Designer of “Kathy Ireland Worldwide,” appeared in 13 straight swimsuit issues including three covers. The 25th anniversary cover from 1989 remains the best-selling Swimsuit issue to date.

Random Fact: Kathy Ireland’s first job was working a paper route before signing as a model at age 17.

Tweet us your thoughts about our greatest swimsuit model picks at #Swim50


1. Elle Macpherson


Hometown: Sydney, Australia

Years in Swimsuit Issue: 10 (1985-91, 1994, 2004, 2006)

Social:Twitter | Facebook

Macpherson has appeared on the swimsuit cover a record five times. In addition to her modeling career she is a businesswoman, actress, and a TV host. She earned her infamous nickname of “The Body” after her appearances in the Swimsuit issue.

Random Fact: Elle Macpherson true last name is Gow but due to a clerical error she was registered for school with her stepfather’s last name of Macpherson.

Tweet us your thoughts about our greatest swimsuit model picks at #Swim50