Cody Simpson is emitting enough good vibes to cut through even the dreariest day in Birmingham. The music star turned swimmer can’t get enough of the green and gold uniform he had been dreaming of wearing since he was a kid tearing up local pools on the Gold Coast.
Even now, preparing for his first major international meet, there is a hint of the surreal about Simpson’s presence on the Australian swimming team. The audacious gamble to give up his celebrity lifestyle and return to the sport he loves has paid handsome dividends.
And he has not been the only winner. Interest in his journey has seen everyone from The New York Times two CNN give priceless publicity to a sport where access to athletes can be controlled by cautious coaches worried about the threat of distraction.
Should he swim well in Birmingham, starting on Friday with heats of the 50m butterfly, he will help show the swimming establishment that athletes can – and should – play their part in helping the sport’s promotion.
But that could be where the Cinderella story ends for Simpson. Because when he stands on the blocks, he will be just another athlete for his rivals to beat in the scramble for spots in semis and finals. He will need to continue to improve, especially in the 100m butterfly, or his goal to make the 2024 Olympics in Paris will fade quickly.
“He’s very, very passionate about his swimming. His goal was to get as close as he could to getting on this team in 2024. He’s got there in 2022,” said Michael Bohl, who coaches Simpson at his star-factory at Griffith University.
“He’s not where he needs to be, he needs to keep improving, because if he’s swimming this time in 2024 he won’t be part of the Paris team. He’s fully aware of that.
“So for him, it’s about looking for those little areas of improvement, and hopefully we can see that here over the next week.”