Jessica Rafalowski had no trouble establishing her credibility as a bathing beauty. She won Miss Florida USA in 2008 in her first try after winning her local pageant. That’s no small feat in the Sunshine State.

Down south, they take beauty pageants very seriously, and most contestants have years of experience in local and regional competitions before moving on to the state level.

“My friends were always away on the weekends doing pageant stuff, and finally they were like, ‘Why don’t you just do it with us so you can be part of it?’ I got a bathing suit and a dress and ended up winning,” she says.

Check out Jessica’s photos; click to enlarge.

“It’s more about being natural,” she says of the experience. “When I see those girls on ‘Toddlers & Tiaras,’ I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ When I was five, I was playing in the dirt with Ninja Turtles!”

Rafalowski must have really impressed the judges. But it’s not just her beauty. She has brains. The 26-year-old has a marketing and psychology degree from Stetson University, a private school in her hometown of Deland in Central Florida.

The daughter of Polish immigrants, she also speaks fluent Polish.

Since graduating, the 5’11” tall beauty has been slowly gaining visibility as a model. She’s gotten a shout-out from Sports Illustrated’s Web site, which named her “Lovely Lady of the Day.” And, she’s done a turn in Maxim magazine.

Last fall, she was named Beach Bunny Swimwear’s latest model, and that’s after winning another competition, the 2010 Beach Bunny Swimwear Model Search.

She’s in good company at Beach Bunny. Model Kate Upton, also reps for the brand, and she appeared in one of Rafalowski’s videos. They compared butts!

Drop in on her place and check out her photos from Esquire’s Me and My Place feature. And, check out her video below.