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Get to Know SI Swim Search Finalist Shannon Burton

The 50-year-old mom first started modeling 15 years ago.

Shannon Burton is a dreamer who is determined to live a life without limits. Take a look at her resume. It’s filled with multiple accomplishments – most people wouldn’t have completed one of these feats in a lifetime. To start, she was a scholarship women’s basketball player at both Duke and Butler, graduating from the latter with a B.A. in psychology. Next, Burton became a marketing manager before shifting to TV hosting. Then, at 35, she decided to pursue modeling, signing with her first agency. Now, at 50, she is a mom, wife, professional model and SI Swim Search finalist, proving that it's never too late to try something new.

“At 50 years young, I feel like I have so much more I want to give,” Burton says. “There’s so much more I want to do in this life. It’s never too late to chase a dream.”

We chatted with Burton to find out what inspired her to go after her SI Swimsuit dream and what other goals she has in store.

“Quite honestly, it was a combination of things. I specifically remember seeing an article in March of 2021 about Kathy Jacobs, the 57-year-old rookie who had been chosen out of SI Swim Search, and I was inspired in more ways than one. How could I not be? She was amazing, gorgeous, fearless and worked hard to be her best self. I have been a dream chaser since I was very young, and if I had a passion in my heart for something, I worked my tail off until I got it. This was no different. I started modeling at the late age of 35 when many modeling careers had already come to an end. So many rejections, doors closed, and “no”s in my 15 years in the industry, but I refused to quit. When I saw that Swim Search was opening up for 2022-23, I promised to enter. I turned 50 in March and felt it was the perfect way to celebrate such a big milestone. So I went all in.”

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What do you love about SI Swim?

“I was inspired by what Sports Illustrated Swim was doing. They were giving all women a chance to shine and be featured in their iconic publication by simply being themselves. All ages, all colors, all shapes, sizes and heights. They celebrated women and the unique, incredible individuals we truly are, and I loved that.”

How do you hope it helps your platform?

“SI Swim could be a springboard of sorts to more opportunities for personal growth; I am extremely excited to be a part of a brand celebrating women and truly campaigning for change by action. If I was asked to put my finger on my platform right now, I’m not even sure I could articulate fully what it may be because, in reality, there are several. I pursued this, truly wanting to be a member of a team of incredible women who are working together to inspire, encouraging all women to be the very best they can be and know they can accomplish anything in this life. I believe in what they are doing; I have two teenage daughters who are always observing. I want them to see their mom pursuing dreams, pushing boundaries and standing strong so that they too will feel empowered in their lives to do the same.”

What would it mean to you to be selected as a rookie for the 2023 Swimsuit Issue?

“Even thinking about it gives me chills and makes me tear up. To me, on a personal level, it would be the absolute pinnacle of growth. I will have proven to myself that I made it. I made it through devastating circumstances in my life that could have stopped me in my tracks. I endured painful disappointments that could have made me stop pursuing dreams. I made it through constant rejection and chatter from people who didn’t understand my goals and hopes. I made it through the fear of comparison. While I am blessed to have always had the undying support of those I love the most, being selected as a rookie for 2023 SI Swim would prove that there are others out there who believe in me as much as I believe in myself. And that is gold because if you can’t believe in yourself, no one else can either.”

As a dreamer, what's still on your wishlist?

“I hope to one day create a line of fashion-forward, affordable clothing for women 5'10" and above—I can pass on to our tall daughters. Secret: I already have the company name picked out!”