Cody Simpson has secured his two national titles as a professional swimmer, winning the 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly at the Australian short course championships. The former pop star triumphed in the 100m on Thursday night in a time of 47.85, with Tomas Kapocius second (47.94) and Joel Ivory third (48.16).
He then backed it up in the butterfly on Friday night, winning in a time of 50.60. It marks a remarkable achievement for Simpson, who only turned to professional swimming in 2019 after a successful career as a singer.
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“I’ve adopted an attack mentality, aiming to leave nothing in the tank and to just see what happens,” Simpson said on Friday night after winning the butterfly event. “I’m a student of the sport every single day, with my coach (Michael Bohl) and my team helping me improve in whatever area I can and there’s tonnes more I can learn and improve on. And I’m here to put everything I do in training into my racing.”
Earlier this year he missed out on making the Australian team for the long course world championships in a dagger blow to his dream of competing at next year's Olympics. He finished fifth in the 100m butterfly at the national trials in June after also failing to fire in the 100m freestyle.
However he will get more chances to qualify for next year's Paris Games, and will be taking plenty of confidence from this week's meet. Reporter Braden Keith wrote on social media on Thursday night: "Still one of the wildest things to me in swimming history. (Simpson) was a talented age grouper, took a decade away from the sport *doing something else*, came back, and 'made it'.
"Undercuts a lot of perception about needing to specialize early, start two-a-days in middle school, no days off, etc. etc. Talent rises to the top. A clear athlete who left swimming young for another sport, didn't make it there, and might be willing to come back. How do we ID those kids?"
That’s the conversation I wanna have. Way more interesting to me than the relationship drama.
— Braden Keith (@Braden_Keith) September 14, 2023
I think this is an important point. I think kids specialize too early. If a kid is just into it, fine. But I think a lot of parents push kids into a single sport early thinking this will get them a scholarship.
— Matt Hausmann (@matthausmann) September 14, 2023
— gigachad ledecky (@LEDECKYNATION) September 14, 2023
CODY SIMPSON 100 FREE GOLD WOOOOO https://t.co/qTDhwAM6kN
— jocelyn (swimswim4) (@swimswim48) September 14, 2023
That's badass. Frank Molinaro (wrestling) had a similar story of taking time off then came back and made it onto the olympic team. Next level stuff!
— Mikey | Jacked Engineer (@GaintrustMikey) September 14, 2023
Simpson made his first national team last year when he competed at the Commonwealth Games. He walked away with a gold medal in the 4x100m relay because he was a heat swimmer.
"Two months ago, I wasn't even sure I would be here, I was just trying to get on the team," he said at the time. "So this is pretty cool. It's cool because my mind is swimming and the sport of swimming, the training and the racing."
The 26-year-old has no regrets about stepping away from global pop fame for the grind of the pool. "The whole thing is suited to my personality and my mind," Simpson said. "It's very rewarding to me to just do it and train on a daily basis. I didn't find it too hard to kind of adjust to the lifestyle and integrate myself into my training environment. I'm living just the way any other swimmer is doing at this point."
Bronte Campbell back to winning ways at short course championships
Elsewhere on Thursday night, Bronte Campbell won the women's 100m title as she sets her sights on competing at a fourth Olympic Games. The two-time Olympic champion led from first stroke to last, winning in 52.39 seconds.
The five-time world champion, who will also contest the 50m in Sydney, beat second-placed finisher Sydney Brown (54.17) and Sarah Locke in third (54.98). The 29-year-old Campbell told the crowd: "I'm so proud to be here … and see this next generation come through.
"I'm just enjoying being back in this pool where I've had so many great memories. As a little kid it was never about winning Olympic gold, it was about wearing the green and gold. And the thought of going to four Games is way bigger than I could have ever dreamt."
Defending individual medley title holder Kayla Hardy, who is also coached by Campbell's mentor Shannon Rollason, won the 400m event in 4min 35.64sec ahead of Lucy Dring (4:39.06) and Emily White (4:43.97). And Jack Ireland won the multi-class 50m freestyle after breaking the world record in the S14 multi-class 200m on Wednesday. And in the women's 200m backstroke, Abbey Webb (2:07.61) pipped Adriana Fydler (2:07.80) - daughter of Olympic gold medallist Chris.
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