Strutting their stuff in swimsuits

Rebecca Pine has plenty of young admirers.
Rebecca Pine has plenty of young admirers.
Competitors in the Miss Alexandra Swimsuit competition at the Molyneux Aquatic Centre yesterday...
Competitors in the Miss Alexandra Swimsuit competition at the Molyneux Aquatic Centre yesterday were (from left) Michelle Cobby, Ashleigh Anderson, Holly McMillian, Nicole Charles, Arleya Lines, Rebecca Pine, Shannon McKelvey, Carly McLeod, Jenna Keane...
Ashleigh Anderson was declared the winner.
Ashleigh Anderson was declared the winner.

Strutting the catwalk in her bikini was a first for Miss Alexandra Swimsuit contest winner Ashleigh Anderson, but she hoped her late mother Natalie would have been proud of her.

Her mother died more than two years ago in a motorcycle crash and Miss Anderson, a 20-year-old apprentice hairdresser of Alexandra, said the question of "would she have been proud of me" was always in the back of her mind.

"She would certainly have been proud of this tan I've got, though," she laughed, displaying the spray tan contestants were given.

"I hope I've done her proud today, and I know she'd have been my No 1 supporter."

Miss Anderson was one of 16 competitors aged between 16 and 32. Her fellow competitors were "an absolutely awesome bunch of girls", she said.

A similar competition used to be a regular holiday event, organised for a time by the Alexandra Holiday Park, but it has been more than a decade since the last "Miss Alexandra".

"A swimsuit contest isn't something I'd have entered two years ago but as you get older, you don't care so much what people think. Everyone's a different shape and size and I think you should just be proud of what you've got," Miss Anderson said.

The event was organised by Promote Alexandra, staged at the Molyneux Aquatic Centre, and judges Tim Riwhi, Jacqui van Dam and Carolyn Lyons, all of Alexandra, said it was not a beauty pageant, it was more a personality and style contest.

"We're looking for personality, maybe a bit of confidence, style and their choice of swimsuit and how it matches their personality," Ms van Dam said.

Miss Anderson's prize was $500 cash and a photo shoot, while second runner-up, Carly MacLeod (24) won $150 and first runner-up Arleya Lines (19) won $250. Ms MacLeod also won the Miss Photogenic title and was runner-up in the People's Choice award.

Genna Bruce (24), of Alexandra, won the People's Choice vote.

Many of the women said they entered as a confidence booster. Miss Bruce said she was "comfortable in my own skin, so why not enter something like this?"

Anyone who believed it was sexist was naive, she said. Alexandra sisters Erica (18) and Rebecca (20) Pine entered because it was "something different, that might extend us a bit".

Argentinian Betiana Diaz was the oldest competitor at 32. She took the day off from working as a cherry-picker near Alexandra, to enter the contest.

"It's my first time in something like this and it's ... exciting," she said.

The event was part of a week-long Love Alex Summer Daze festival which began on Boxing Day.

Organised by Promote Alexandra, with funding assistance from the Vincent Community Board, the festival includes a talent quest and farmers market in Pioneer Park tomorrow, free Zumba and Pilates sessions in the park, a disco on Friday night and a local musician showcase from 11am to 1pm on Saturday in the park.



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