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With the 2020 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sports Illustrated put out a quarantine challenge on Instagram for sports fans and followers to recreate some of their favorite swimsuit images from years past. The response was overwhelming. Interestingly, one SI cover model from the past joined in on the fun recreating an image of a completely different model in the nude.

A history of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

The first-ever Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue arrived on newsstands in February 1964. At the time, editor Andre Laguerre recognized the sports calendar was slower during the winter months and believed a swimsuit issue would be something readers would enjoy. He was right.

Since that first one, the magazine hit newsstands each February up until last year, when it came out for the first time in May. In 1997, Sports Illustrated decided the swimsuit issue could stand on its own and created its own stand-alone issue, separate from the weekly magazine. 

Through the years it has featured some of the most famous models, including Cheryl Tiegs, Christie Brinkley, Paulina Porizkova, Elle Macpherson, Rachel Hunter, Rebecca Romijn, Heidi Klum, and Tyra Banks. More recently, the issue has featured female athletes including Steffi Graf, Serena Williams, Ronda Rousey, Danica Patrick, and Anna Kournikova. 

Sports Illustrated calls for recreation of swimsuit issue photos from years past

With much of America staying indoors and looking for entertaining things to do, Sports Illustrated put out a call on Instagram #SwimsuitIconChallenge, asking for its followers to get creative and send in photos recreating some of their favorite models and poses from the past. The followers responded in a big way and had some interesting stories to accompany their photos.

One submission was from software services operations manager Alyssa Suro, who recreated the 1990 Elle MacPherson cover. 

“It was a challenge to recreate the sunlight and beach setting since it was actually 2 a.m. in my bathroom,” the 22-year-old told the New York Post. Suro used a blanket for her background, and wore a black one-piece suit with her swim-team goggles.

Another Sports Illustrated swimsuit submission featured Tamika Vantifflin, the executive director of nonprofit The Black Ecosystem, mimicking the 1997 cover of Tyra Banks, the first-ever cover to feature an African-American woman.

“Tyra has been an inspiration to me ever since I was a young teen. She was the one who taught me self-worth; she showed me that I can truly love myself and the skin I’m in without hesitation. All the confidence I have right now, I owe to her.” 

A surprise submission from 1982 Swimsuit covergirl Carol Alt

The biggest surprise submission came from the 1982 SI swimsuit covergirl Carol Alt. The 59-year-old Alt recreated the 2008 cover featuring Marisa Miller, who was nearly nude. Alt didn’t shy away from getting as close to the original as possible.

“You just want to say ‘Hey, look, I work out, and I’m 60 freaking years old this year!'” she told The Post. “I try to stay away from alcohol because it’s really, really addictive, but I can’t say during corona I haven’t had a glass of nice white wine here and there.”

Not surprisingly, there was a big response to Alt’s submission praising the former supermodel. 

“I never expected this, believe me. When I [first] went to push the button to share, I had to stop and take a deep breath,” Alt said.

For sports fans, a lot of the photos are reminders of the past and a specific snapshot in time. For the women submitting the photos, it was a chance to have a little fun and get into the swimsuit-wearing spirit despite the current conditions. And for Carol Alt, it was a chance to prove age is just a number.   


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