With a large crowd watching and fans chanting his name, it put him back in the thick of his music as he regularly performed in front of thousands of people and performed live on television.
“I’ve had the experience of having to get up and do something in front of a lot of people, and I care about the outcome,” Simpson says. “I guess I knew how to deal with it, more than letting it destroy me in that moment.”
It’s now nearly three years since Simpson shifted his focus from music to competitive swimming.
“It put me on a path to rapid improvement because I just had to learn to deal with it – whether it was vomiting at least twice a week for the first six months, just adapting to what I was trying to put on my body. through.”
Earning a spot on the Australian team at the Paris Olympics has been Simpson’s goal ever since he returned to swimming, but right now he is preparing to compete in his first international competition at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England with his 50m. butterfly heats are scheduled for Friday.
‘the first love’
A brutal workout schedule and hours spent staring at the bottom of a pool seem a far cry from Simpson’s life as a pop star, which began when he started covering songs and posting YouTube videos at the age of 12.
As his music began to take off and his online following grew, he was “given opportunities I couldn’t turn down” and within a year he moved to the US with his family.
Since then, he has recorded four studio albums, performed at venues around the world, collaborated with celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Flo Rida, dated famous celebrities including Miley Cyrus and Gigi Hadid, played on Broadway, and appeared on the Dancing with Stars” and “The Masked Singer Australia”.
But throughout this turbulent time, Simpson’s desire to return to swimming did not leave him. He competed at a high level as a junior in Australia and even started looking for teams to join when he first moved to the US.
“I think because I left it in a good place in my memory, the desire to swim again never faded,” he says. “The fire continued to burn softly within me until I had to pick it up.”
The 25-year-old Simpson was born into a family of swimmers, his parents, Brad and Angie, both competed for Australia. He jokes that he learned to swim before he could walk and always dreamed of a career in the pool before his music career took off earlier than expected.
“I think everyone has a moment in life when they realize that they have an ability or an aptitude for something that they may not have in other things,” says Simpson, “and for me it was swimming. .
“It was my first love, the first thing I ever loved to do. And that hasn’t changed, I guess, to this day.”
“Scratch the itch”
Simpson says his parents never forced him to take up swimming and admits his mom, having experienced the sport’s difficulty, even tried to talk him out of returning in 2019.
But in the end, the pull of the pool proved too strong.
“It was because I didn’t want to deal with any “what ifs” in my life and didn’t regret it,” says Simpson, “and how I should have tried to complete that unfinished business that, what I thought I had in the pool was that untapped or unrealized total potential that I thought I had.
“And just to scratch the itch, really – it was getting too unbearable… I knew the music would always be with me and I could tour and I could do all these things until I got old. , but you can only swim for a certain number of years. I wanted to see what I can do.”
“To have these people in my corner and be able to call or text them and ask for something or advice is very important,” says Simpson, “especially because these are the guys that were on my wall and on the splash screen. my computer. and everything grows up – Ian is one of them, and Michael is the other.
Being able to turn to Phelps for advice makes Simpson’s swimming circle complete: on his first trip to the US, he had his father drive from New York to Baltimore to try and meet Phelps at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club.
“We were walking at a time when we thought he might be exercising,” Simpson recalls, “and the next moment he shows up.
“I got him to sign about 20 swimming caps; my father took a picture of us together and I met with his trainer.
Simpson’s late introduction to professional swimming makes him an anomaly in a sport where most elite athletes train and compete intensely from a young age. He hopes to show people that it’s possible to excel in the pool without exercising strictly during adolescence.
And with a total of 17.4 million followers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, it’s likely that he’ll focus more on the sport, documenting his swimming career on social media.
“I’d like to inspire more kids to get into it and show it’s cool,” Simpson says. “I love the sport, so if that’s all I’ve ever done for swimming is trying to get more attention for it, then I feel like I’ve done my part because I love it and I want to to make more people love it. “
Simpson is scheduled to compete in the 50m and 100m butterfly events at the Commonwealth Games; reaching the final of one of these tournaments, he said, would be “quite special”.
At the moment, his musical career is on hold, but it continues to play an important role in his life. Late last year, he took advantage of an easy week of training to record his fourth studio album, Cody Simpson, which was released in April.
“I play guitar all the time,” Simpson says, “it’s one of those things that is kind of cathartic at the moment. It’s what I do to relax and it’s very nice to have what I love outside of the pool. “
He plans to return to music full-time as his love of swimming begins to wane, but not anytime soon.
“I will continue to write and improve my guitar playing and all, and will definitely return to it after swimming,” says Simpson. “First of all, I think about what I’m doing in the pool right now.”