Swimming the third time (51.96) in the 100 butterfly’ final at the Australian Trials, and due to Kyle Chalmers’ resignation, Cody Simpson earned his first World Swimming Championships’ call with Team Australia.

In just one day, the pop star swam a national top ten time (51.76 in the morning heats), attended the final A of the Trials and fulfilled his dream of being part of the Dolphins, the Australian National team. Not bad for someone who, until two years ago, was completely out of gas from training and competitions, having left the sport at a very young age to devote himself to a career as a musician and singer.

Just after the final, which ended with not the best finish among other things, Cody went to the microphones of Australian TV. “What do you reply to those who say that your return to racing was an advertising thing?”. “Which it wasn’t”.

But what is behind the incredible result of this boy for whom no one would have bet a euro?

Italian Version


Cody Simpson was born in 1997 in Gold Coast and had a very brilliant youth swimming career, so much so that he emerged as one of the best national talents of his generation. In 2009, 12 years old and after having won two golds at the Queensland championships, he started uploading videos of music covers on YouTube, from Justin Timberlake to Jakson 5, and was noticed thanks to the high number of views, which make them in a little time a lucky little case. From here, his rise is very fast: in 2010 he is already a planetary teen idol and his first single, produced together with rapper Florida, is a worldwide success. At this point, he moved with the whole family to the USA to ride the wave of musical success, with peace of mind of those who saw him a successful swimmer. Besides, who wouldn’t?

It doesn’t take long for Cody Simpson to become a cash cow and his successes are as much in music as on TV and cinema: it seems that the world of show business has found another predestined one. After ten years on top, hovewer, something snaps inside Cody, who as he matures finds himself reflecting on what he really wants in life.

To his surprise and those of his followers, the answer is not “a new album” or “a new movie”, but “become an Olympic swimmer“.

“I felt that this was my path, my destiny,” he said in Head Above Water, the Amazon Video documentary that sees him among the stars, “so I decided to drop everything and get back into the game. I do it for myself and for my family“. In words, however, everyone is good, and the facts described at the beginning of his second sporting life paint us anything but the situation of a predestined one.

At the time, Cody is a healthy 23-year-old in good physical shape, but he’s nowhere near an athlete. His physique is lean but frail, the muscles are almost non-existent and, above all, he hasn’t done a serious swimming training for at least ten years. If it is true that every seven years the cells of our body change completely, the last time Simpson was an athlete he was practically another person.

But his determination to put on a cap and goggles is extreme, to the point of convincing someone that he can really do it. And that someone is Brett Hawke.

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La strange Couple

Brett Hawke is a two-time Australian Olympian, is the author of the luckiest swimming podcast in the world – Inside with Brett Hawke – but is also a senior coach, and works as head coach at Auborn University. Among his athletes, there are prominent names such as Bruno Fratus, the bronze Brazilian sprinter in the 50 freestyle in Tokyo: for some reason, Hawke believes that Simpson can give something to swimming, just when no one else would have believed it.

The two begin to work together and after a season Simpson qualifies for the Australian Olympic Trials, where he finishes eighth. What the media call failure, for Cody and Brett is just the beginning of a path that points towards Paris 2024. No one would have thought that, already in 2022, the first results would be seen in a striking way.

Their relationship, as is told in Head Above Water, was immediately one of mutual trust, and it must be said that without a pinch of visionary madness on the part of both, perhaps we would not be here to tell this first – and already surprising – result.

What the Story of Cody Simpson tells us (so far)

The foundation to work on is undoubtedly of high quality. Cody Simpson has an innate sporting talent demonstrated by the results he achieved in the youth categories. His sporting memory is also undoubted, because the swim he has performed in recent days, although imperfect and heavy, is still among the best at national level. Its butterfly is both powerful and fluid, and the fact that it can only improve from here gives even more hope for the future, even in the short term.

To get to swim 51.76 in the 100 butterfly starting from the above mentioned premises, it takes more than a solid motivation. It takes commitment, daily dedication, physical and social sacrifice. It takes a strong mind and a gifted physique, the right external stimuli and the right internal balance. A mix of factors that are really difficult to combine in such a short time.

Today, after its results, it is clear to us that what many denounced as pure exhibitionism has turned out to be more than a real spur. In Australia, swimmers are followed like our footballers, and gossip magazines have not been slow to underline his alleged love affair with Emma McKeon right before Trials, as if to demonstrate a search for those attentions that, like artist, he was gradually losing. Simpson silenced everyone with facts.

If there is second purpose behind all this we cannot know, but certainly the choice of Cody Simpson was risky. Failing in sport could have been a tombstone for his credibility, which instead with this first result is as solid as ever.

Credit: Cody Simpson on Twitter