How do you select your models? That's the question we're asked most often about our annual swimsuit issue. The answer is that, all year long, senior editor Jule Campbell keeps an eye on newspapers, magazines and trade papers, searching for promising swimsuit candidates. (Twelve years ago, for instance, she saw a picture no more than an inch square of twins Yvonne and Yvette Sylvander in Women's Wear Daily and flew to Miami to meet them. The twins graced our Jan. 19, 1976, cover.) Campbell then spends several hours interviewing each prospect, checking, among other things, how she moves, whether she is energetic or quiet, how she reacts before the camera. All this research pays off, as you will see when you get to the seven models who brighten 34 pages of this issue (page 98).
"I'm not looking for undernourished fashion models," Campbell says. "We want healthy girls—they have to be, to keep up with all the things we try. They also have to be pretty good athletes, and I think that gives them a quality that shows in the pictures."
Most of this year's models will be familiar to SI readers: Elle Macpherson, Kim Alexis, Kathy Ireland, Ren�e Simonsen and Carol Alt have all been here before. And all have athletic backgrounds. Macpherson, our cover girl, was a backstroker who competed from a very early age at home in Australia; Alexis was a competitive swimmer in high school; Ireland is a fine skier; Simonsen plays tennis and swims; and Alt, who is also featured in this issue as the wife of New York Rangers star Ron Greschner (page 88), was the top scorer on her high school basketball team.
This year's two swimsuit rookies also grew up in sports. Karen Alexander once held the high-jumping record (5'10") at South Brunswick ( N.J.) High School. "Karen also used to be a sprinter, but she had to quit when she tore up her knee playing basketball," Campbell says. And Monika Schnarre, who is a sophomore at her high school, Woburn Collegiate Institute in Toronto, throws the javelin for the school track team.
Alexis, as you will see, is equally at ease in or out of the water. While away from John Zimmerman's camera, she continued her training routine for the 1986 New York Marathon. Three days after returning from location in the Dominican Republic, Alexis finished the marathon in 4:27.
The hazards the models faced this year were varied. For instance Macpherson rode an Arabian stallion through sugarcane fields near a steep cliff, and the footing was often treacherous. Ireland's sporting blood was tested by a shot that required her to stand perfectly still on the sideline during a polo match. "We wanted it to look as if she were almost in the game," Campbell says. "The horses would come charging right at Kathy, then separate just as they reached her."
Ireland and Schnarre got a taste of the Dominican passion for baseball (see Steve Wulf's article, page 132) when the two models joined two bus loads of children one morning for a friendly game of hardball. They both took their cuts and turns on the mound. "The kids were all surprised at what a good pitcher Kathy turned out to be," Campbell says. "She knew all the moves."