Sports Illustrated Swim models Camille Kostek and Katie Austin celebrated Super Bowl weekend by helping to launch the brand’s Swimfluence Network app on Friday afternoon in Hollywood.
Kostek and Austin were joined by their fellow Sports Illustrated swim models Christen Harper, Josephine Skriver, Jasmine Sanders, Kate Bock and Kamie Crawford at the interactive fan event. Held inside the Hard Rock Cafe on Hollywood Blvd., the models gabbed with guests — many of whom hope to grace those glossy magazine pages one day — and participated in panel discussions to discuss the ins and outs of the modeling business. Attendees also had the opportunity to apply to become the next winner of the magazine’s annual Swim Search competition.
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“Being here during Super Bowl week is major because this is one of the biggest stages in America,” Kostek told Variety during the event. “Everyone’s gonna watch football where these guys actually do their thing that they’re passionate about, but there’s a space for us too. I love that Sports Illustrated creates that space for us to show up, share, spread, inspire, because, this is what I feel like we’re meant to do.”
Austin and Harper won the swim search competition last year, with Austin telling Variety that taking the stage to discuss her journey marked a full-circle moment.
“It’s kind of crazy because last year at this time, I was on the other side of it,” the SI Swim rookie said of sharing advice with the hopefuls in attendance. “Sitting on that panel, I was like, ‘This could be you next year. You never know were this opportunity could take you and what doors it’ll open.’”
Austin was also thrilled to share the stage with Kostek, who won the first ever Swim Search in 2018 and has gone on to be featured on the cover of the annual magazine.
“Camille is one of the reasons I auditioned to begin with. She’s an inspiration to this entire process and shows you can do it all. It was really cool and surreal to sit on that panel,” Austin explained.
The purpose of the event was to inspire the next generation of models, but the current lineup found themselves equally motivated by the experience. Just before chatting with Variety, Kostek was walking through the crowd when a girl grabbed her hand.
“She had this glisten in her eyes — and, you know, we don’t know each other, so to feel that comfortable to grab you, look you in the eye and be like, I need to tell you something — she told me, ‘You helped me step into who I am. Waking up, loving the way I look every day. Looking in the mirror accepting who I am — my body, my curves, the freckles on my skin.’ Things that sound so simple but are a little bit tough,” Kostek recounts. “You don’t realize the amount of people you touch until they grab your hand and tell you. But you don’t always get that opportunity. It feels nice to hear that.”
The Swimfluence summit also expands the Sports Illustrated brand’s footprint at the Super Bowl, which is awash with parties, most notably the star-studded annual Sports Illustrated bash on Saturday night. Austin, Kostek and their crew will strut the carpet at Century City Park party, where Kygo and Jack Harlow are among the headliners. “It’s all my favorite things — the music, the dancing, the energy, the people coming together to have a good time,” Kostek says previewing the event.
Then on Sunday, Austin, who is a huge L.A. Rams fan, will be in attendance at the big game — having surprised her mother, whose birthday is also Feb. 13, with tickets. Kostek, on the other hand, will be flying home to Tampa with her fiancé Rob Gronkowski, hightailing it out of the madness after a packed week of events, including the NFL Honors ceremony on Thursday. She’ll be rooting on the Cincinnati Bengals. “Those four seconds changed the game,” she noted, calling back to the football team’s win over the Kansas City Chiefs.Best of Variety