In our ever-expanding efforts to get to know SI’s swimsuit models, we reached out to Genevieve Morton‘s best friend from childhood to get the inside scoop on the first-year swimsuit model. Here’s what Niel Govender had to say.
SwimDaily: Tell me about yourself.
Niel Govender: My name is Dr. Niel Govender. I'm from South Africa and currently work in a state hospital as a medical doctor.
SD: How long have you known Genevieve? Do you remember when/how you first met?
NG: I've known Genevieve since we were 13-years-old. We first met in junior school when she had braces and small boobs and I was sitting at the table next to her in class.
SD: What was Genevieve like in high school? Was she popular? Did boys like her?
NG: Gen had a lot going on in her personal life so she had her good days and her bad. Somehow we always sat next to each other in class and we would always catch up on what was going on. Like every teenager, we all had issues. She was one of the cool kids. Definitely popular and the boys didn't like her. They loved her. A lot of cattiness with the girls for obvious reasons.
SD: Genevieve once told me she was bullied growing up, and some people made fun of her swimsuits. Is this true? Do you remember?
NG: Unfortunately yeah it is. Gen joined our school later on. Most of the kids had started as one group in first grade. She was a late-comer so its always difficult cracking the nod. A lot of people didn't take an immediate liking to our dear gal but eventually when you got to know her, you'd realize what a hoot she is.
SD: Did you have any idea she'd become a swimsuit model?
NG: It seems quite obvious now but at the time its hard to predict the modeling world and any which way it can go.
SD: What would you guys do on a typical Saturday night in high school?
NG: There was always the odd party to attend and engage in debaucheries activities. Other than that it was a quiet little beach town. I was always studying. Gen was taking care of things at home.
SD: Tell me an embarrassing Genevieve story?
NG: I visited Gen the one day. She had asked me to help move flats and her roommate was also there who she was to move in with. Things were quite tense as they seemed to be fighting over some issues. I was just sitting and chatting to Gen when next thing you know the roommate gets really angry about something and takes a broom and slams it on the floor next to me. Then she lashed out at gen. Gen physically fought back. Luckily there was no blood. It was hilarious to watch two models fighting. I had the time of my life.
SD: Now that we embarrassed Genevieve, tell me a story that shows how good a friend/person she is.
NG: Gen has just generally been someone whose always been there. Who will make the effort even if its an inconvenience. Who will put you right when you need it. Most of all, she's always been there at the worst of times and the best of times.
SD: What was it like after Genevieve first appeared in SI Swimsuit? Could you believe your friend was so famous?
NG: I was incredibly proud of her achievement. It is a bit surreal to see someone you know in a magazine especially SI.
SD: Did you ever think she'd be a swimsuit model? What was your first reaction?
NG: No I didn't. I thought she would have an art gallery but I wasn't surprised.
SD: How often do you guys get to hang out now? What do you usually do?
NG: Well we were both in Cape Town for the last seven years. We saw each other pretty much every week. We would either just hang out at her apartment, go around doing some errands. Coffee. Gym. Eat. She's an incredibly mean personal trainer. Her methods aren't for the faint-hearted.
SD: Is it weird having a good friend be a celebrity? Has she taken you anywhere fun? Have you met anyone famous? Gotten any free swag?
Its only weird when we walk around a shopping mall and people stare. I have name dropped now and then. Guilty as charged.