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Get to Know 2022 Swim Search Finalist Nicole Petrie

The model/caregiver is spreading awareness around FTD.

Name: Nicole Petrie
Hometown: Lake Geneva, Wis.
Occupation: Model/Caregiver
Age: 27

BTS of Nicole Petrie on set in the Dominican Republic.

BTS of Nicole Petrie on set in the Dominican Republic.

“I have dreamed of shooting for SI since I started modeling but the timing has never seemed more perfect to submit before than it did this year. Not only do I feel I’ve grown so much as a person and a model over the past few years but after over 1 million people started following me and my mom’s journey on TikTok during the pandemic, I feel more supported, motivated and inspired than ever. The stories I’ve heard from other caregivers and families have really opened my eyes to how uncommon it is for FTD to be talked about even though it is the most common form of dementia in people under 60 years old. My goal in submitting this year is to spread awareness by educating as many people as possible about this terrible disease and to be a voice for anyone navigating a diagnosis like this, to show them they are not alone and there is still so much joy to be had!”

“Everything. I have put actual blood, sweat and tears into my career over the last eight-plus years of modeling and I have gone through so much and had to give up so many things to continue pushing myself and focusing on my dreams. The modeling industry is a tough industry to be in to begin with, especially when you don’t have any connections to start off. But being a caregiver to a parent, finishing college and balancing time between being home and trying to take any big modeling opportunity I could certainly didn’t make it any easier. I think if I were to win the 2022 Swim Search it would finally make me feel like it was worth the hard work and dedication. It would show everyone that no matter where you come from, who you know or don’t know, the trauma or hardships you experience in life, or how long you have worked for your dreams to this point, if you believe in yourself and you don’t give up on what you’re passionate about, your dreams won’t give up on you!”

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What has been the best part (so far) about being a part of The Swimfluence Network community?

“All of the girls have been so nice and fun to get to know. I have a very small group of girlfriends and most of them I’ve known since my childhood because I’ve been so focused on my career and taking care of my mom over the past 10-plus years that it’s been really hard to build friendships. When you work with other models for most jobs, it’s for a day or a few days tops and it’s hard to build a lasting friendship in that short amount of time. That’s why I have loved using the Swimfluence app to get to know the other amazing women that have submitted this year and to connect with the other finalists before our shoots. SI is a family of strong, diverse, multifaceted, empowered and positive women and I’m so proud to be a part of it now!”

How did you prepare for the SI Swim Search photo shoot?

“Most of my preparation was mental preparation rather than physical or anything else. I live a pretty healthy lifestyle; I’ve been vegan for probably six years now and feel better now than I ever have in the past. I just reminded myself to really enjoy the days leading up to and during the shoot. I told myself that I have worked hard for this, I am experienced enough and talented at what I do, and I just need to trust myself! Like many others, I’ve dealt with anxiety for the majority of my life and performance anxiety and imposter syndrome can really get the best of me sometimes. But I’m learning to change that nervous energy into excitement and really live in the moment.”

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

“Well, I was actually in the middle of a shoot for the store at which both my younger sister works as a fashion buyer and my boyfriend works as a photographer/editor, so as soon as I could I texted them and asked them to come to the studio and told them both as they came in. They were so excited for me, wrapped me up in big hugs, and my little sister looked up at me with tears in her eyes and told me she was so proud of me. That was one of the happiest moments of my life. I called my older sister next, who has always inspired me to be strong and stay true to myself; she reminded me that I worked hard for this and told me that I truly deserve it after everything I’ve gone through to get to this point. I actually had a flight booked to go home to see my parents for the next day, so I waited to tell them in person, and my dad – who I’ve only seen cry a few times in my entire life – shed happy tears as he tried to get out his “pretty cool, proud of you” response while my mom cheered in joy!”

What is your favorite SI Swimsuit memory?

“I think when I got the call telling me that I was a finalist this year and that I would be shooting with Yu Tsai, one of my dream photographers, in the Dominican Republic Yeah, I think that will be one of my favorite memories of my whole life. Few things are going to be able to top the feeling I had in that moment! It was absolutely surreal and honestly, I still feel like I’m dreaming!”

What advice would you give to your younger self?

“The same advice that I would give to any young person right now. Life isn’t always going to be easy, people might not always be nice, and even if you do everything right… things might still go wrong and that’s O.K. Life doesn’t always go to plan, we can’t predict the future, but what we can do is stay true to ourselves and be grateful for today. We can build ourselves up on the good days so that we have strength to get through the bad days. Remember to tell the people that you love that you’re thankful for them. Try to see the beauty in every moment (good and bad) and remind yourself often that you’re way stronger than you could ever imagine. Hang in there and never give up, because you are meant for incredible things!”

What change would you like to see in the world?

“I would like more people to realize the power they have as individuals. That even as individuals, we have the ability to make real change. It’s the small everyday decisions that add up to create large-scale change. Whether it’s simply saying something nice to a stranger you pass on the street, or being conscious about what we consume on a daily basis. All the little decisions we make, the industries we support and the things we say directly impacts the world around us. If you can brighten even one person’s day, you’ve made a difference.”

Meet all of the 2022 Swim Search finalists here.