Kate Upton on ‘Painful’ Sports Illustrated Shoot: I Was Losing My Hearing and Eyesight

Kate Upton has made history with her latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit shoot — she is the first model to land back-to-back covers since Tyra Banks in 1996 and 1997.

However, the road to being this year’s cover girl was a difficult one.

"It was definitely the hardest shoot I've ever done," Upton, 20, tells People. "The best as well – Antarctica is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to. But I'm from Florida, so it was pretty painful."

Imagine the shock when Upton realized she was the only model being whisked away to the far away continent for the photo shoot.

“I was very surprised by the news that that’s where my shoot was going to be located,’’ Upton said further discussing the difficulties on the “Today” show on Tuesday.

[Related: See more of this year's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit beauties!]

Upton joked on Twitter that when she got back it took two months to thaw out from frostbite.

“When I came back I was losing hearing and eyesight because my body was shutting down,” the SI cover girl continued. “It was working so hard to keep me warm. My mom’s in my ear going ‘I told you not to go there. It’s a bad idea!’”

Planning for this shoot took about three years due to costs and scheduling, marking it as the first-ever fashion shoot that has taken place in Antarctica.

"Everything about the picture is perfect," SI editor MJ Day told People while backing up Upton’s remarks about how difficult it was. "First of all, it's cold, even though we were there in summer. The windchill was sub-zero – the elements are really working against you."

Still, Upton handled the freezing environment like a pro.

"She never complained. She'd just say, 'Okay, let's go do it again,’” praised Day. "I knew that if I needed to bury someone in clothing, I needed her physique and curves to come through.”

[Related: Chrissy Teigen's SI shoot in Chile!]

The only bummer is that Day didn’t get the chance to tell Upton in person that all her hard work paid off. The model found out she landed the cover via Twitter when it leaked four days early.

Still, Upton is absolutely thrilled.

"It was an accomplishment just to get through the shoot…I didn't even think about the possibility of being the cover until after I thawed out a bit!” the 20-year-old continued People. “But now it's like, wow – I actually went down there and was able to accomplish that. I'm part of history, and it's a great feeling (sic)."

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue hit stands Tuesday.

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