It's that time again. SI Swimsuit 2015 launch week is here. Over the next four days, the SI Swimsuit models will occupy Herald Square in Manhattan, celebrate the launch at Marquee before boarding a charter flight to Nashville for two more days of celebration. As luck would have it, I will be there documenting everything for Swim Daily so if you need a behind-the-scenes fix, this is the place to get it. 

Before the issue was released, however, we invited several of this year's models to the SI office for video shoots. These videos will be pushed out on Swim Daily over the next few months, but here's a quick preview of all the pre-launch action. 


Kate Bock

Andy Gray

Our first guest was Kate Bock, who you may remember as the 2013 SI Swimsuit Rookie of the Year. Who could forget the epic acceptance speech she delivered from a Madison Square Garden luxury box?

Kate is from Canada (Vancouver, to be exact), so it was a no-brainer for her videos to include hockey. For reasons not yet fully explained, Kate has decided to ignore her hometown Canucks in favor of the New York Rangers. But she still remembers the most important thing: 

 

An important sports message from @katelynnebock. #hockey #life #NHL #canada #SISwimsuit #sportsillustrated

A video posted by Andy Gray (@agray35) on

We had about an hour with Kate and were able to film three videos, including an educational video about her favorite Canadian customs and sayings. Before she left, I was able to throw a few rapid-fire questions at her which she handled like a pro.


Erin Heatherton

A few days later, we invited our first rookie, Erin Heatherton, to the office. I've been an Erin fan for quite some time, largely because of her runway work. 

Getty Images

 
I heard Erin (a Skokie, Ill. native) was a basketball fan but I didn't realize the extent. She spent 10 minutes discussing Michael Jordan and the Bulls teams of the '90s before professing her love for Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons. But the best was yet to come. She reached into her bag and pulled out not one, not two but three old-school Bulls T-shirts. I've never been so proud.
 

Andy Gray

 
I don't want to spoil anything but if you like basketball and models, you'll enjoy our Erin videos.

Ashley Smith

After Erin left, I grabbed a quick lunch and headed back to the studio to meet Ashley Smith. And like any good Texas girl, Ashley started to dance.

And dance...

And dance...


The Cover Reveal

I needed a couple days to recover from Ashley's dancing and prepare for our most important video shoot yet -- the 2015 cover reveal. I found out the week before Hannah Davis would be this year's cover model then took a blood oath to not tell a living soul. The challenge was coming up with a funny/clever/entertaining way to tell her the big news (and to capture her reaction on video). We decided on our Photo Reflections series in which we show a model (or athlete) her old photos and have her comment/react.

It was a complicated plan. Hannah was supposed to come in at 10:30 a.m. and we had the studio for an hour. Her managers at IMG wanted to come in to watch in person. However, they didn't want Hannah to know they were in the building or it would look suspicious. I was very nervous about the timing of it all. Luckily, our new cover model arrived late and I was able to safely stash her agents. As this video indicates, she had no idea she was on the cover.

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2015 SI Swimsuit cover model Hannah Davis surprised with reveal

 

Moments before the cover reveal...
Andy Gray/SI

Moments after...
Karen Carpenter/SI

Celebrating with Swimsuit editor MJ Day
Karen Carpenter/SI

 
Soon after the reveal, Hannah was whisked away for an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. (Ironically enough, that's the week the show filmed in L.A. rather than its permanent studio, a half block away from the SI offices.)
 

 

The Panels

We also had some panels. The first included Kate Bock, Ariel Meredith and Nina Agdal. The second featured Emily DiDonato, Kelly Rohrbach and Erin Heatherton. I don't want to say that all these girls have a future on The View, but some daytime TV producers may want to watch these panel discussions when they come out. 
 

Kelly Rohrbach, Emily DiDonato and Erin Heatherton
Andy Gray/SI

Kelly Rohrbach, Emily DiDonato and Erin Heatherton
Andy Gray/SI

Kate Bock, Ariel Meredith and Nina Agdal
Andy Gray/SI

Kate Bock, Ariel Meredith and Nina Agdal
Andy Gray/SI


Nina Agdal

​After Nina's panel, we whisked her away to the studio for a round of video shoots. If you don't know Nina, she's the type of girl who'd have fun at an insurance seminar so I wasn't worried about capturing good video. We even brought a flag of her native Denmark and asked her to speak Danish. She happily obliged.

Andy Gray/SI

Andy Gray/SI

Andy Gray/SI

 

 


Solveig

​Keeping up with the Denmark theme, we then welcomed first-year model Solveig to the studio. I was excited to show off the lingerie apron I bought my wife on Groupon that's been buried in her bottom drawer the past six months. Solveig is a big foodie so we decided to make a 'Kitchen Basics' video and have Solveig show us some tips. We also gave her an enormous knife to play with.

Andy Gray/SI

Around this time, I decided to use the slow-motion feature on my new iPhone. It was a smart decision.

If you love chocolate syrup and Danish swimsuit models, this video is for you:


Kelly Rohrbach

Andy Gray/SI

 
Our final guest was another rookie, Kelly Rohrbach, who also happened to be a member of the golf team at Georgetown. We decided to showcase her golf skills for the video shoot and she got really into it. After all, who needs heels when playing golf?
 

 
And with that, our pre-launch video shoots were over. Now the real fun begins. Come back tomorrow for all the scenes and sounds from the first day of launch week.