From partying til 4am to getting up at 4am for training, the Aussie singer-songwriter is on a mission to realise his Olympic dreams. Next stop Paris 2024.
Even fully clothed, the thing I notice most about Cody Simpson is just how impressive his shoulder muscles are. They invoke a sportsmanlike envy in me, and yet somehow his tall stature is both imposing and welcoming at the same time. His smile radiates warmth like a Gold Coast sunrise – a sight he’s become reacquainted with having recently move back home to Australia’s east coast.
Indeed, to the outside world, everything was going swimmingly for Simpson – aged only 22, in America the pop sensation had been making music and melting teenage hearts in equal measure for approaching a decade. But in late 2019, he surprised everyone – the industry, his peers and fans – when he announced that for the foreseeable future he’d be swapping the fast lane of LA for another fast lane altogether; in the swimming pool, to pursue a childhood dream of representing his country at the Olympics.
To those close to him though, there had always been an inevitability about this decision – after all, swimming was Simpson’s first love. He was a national champion at school level and until his music took off, it’s what he always thought he’d do. Certainly, it’s what he knew he was good at. But as his music took off, the more albums he sold and the more gigs he sold out, the more unlikely his Olympic pursuit became.
“I really had to make a lot of changes in my life,” reminisces Simpson to us about the moment he made that decision. “I broke up with my girlfriend and moved in with a friend of mine who was a professional athlete himself. I did these things to get myself out of the world I was in, and back into the world that I wanted to be in – into the lifestyle and the mindset that was polarisingly different to the one I was in before. Mentally, though, I was already ready to do it.”
Such changes are proving fruitful as in June this year, Simpson took a step closer to fulfilling his dream. He qualified for the final of the 100m butterfly at the Australian National Championships and though he finished last he broke 52 seconds for the first time and in doing so caught the selector’s attention and with that result, any lingering doubts that he wasn't wholeheartedly serious about his return to pool disappeared.
Now living within a few minutes from where he was when he left for LA more than 10 years ago, he’s going to the same beaches and swimming in the same pools. “It’s quite nostalgic in a way, a full-circle experience," he says. "My time in LA feels like an enchanted chapter of my life that I'll definitely revisit once I'm through with my swimming..."
Cody wears Omega on the cover of Man About Town's AW21 issue.