Cody Simpson has gone from the music charts to off the charts in his swimming career.
The 25-year-old has ticked off everything he wanted to in his Commonwealth Games campaign and the biggest tick came on Wednesday morning in his pet event — the 100m butterfly — where he lined up alongside Aussie national champion Matt Temple.
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In a thrilling final, Temple picked up the silver medal in a swim where the top three swimmers all finished within 0.16 seconds of each other.
Temple shared the silver with England’s James Guy after they were both pipped in the reach to the wall by the strong-finishing Joshua Liendo-Edwards of Canada.
Simpson, meanwhile, was slow out the blocks and it looked like being a disaster for him when he made the turn after the first 50m before he powered home in the second 50m to finish fifth — an extraordinary result.
His time of 52.06 seconds was the second-quickest of his career, but was still outside his personal best of 51.79 seconds.
The pop star started his swimming comeback journey just two years ago after 10 years away from the pool and he did it as something of a sideshow alley attraction. Now he’s proven he is box-office on his swimming credentials alone.
Aussie swimming legend Cate Campbell told Simpson in his post-race interview he was changing the game as a mature-age converter to the sport.
“It has been a meteoric rise, a phenomenal effort and you are really re-writing what people can do in this sport,” she said.
“We are usually seeing people coming in as teenagers and you are told, if you are entering as a teenager, you’re too late.”
Simpson responded: “I want to inspire young people to know that they can do whatever it is they want to do, even if they feel like it’s too late or they’re too old to pick something up, because it’s never too late,” he told Channel 7 after the race.
He said he is well ahead of where he thought he would be in his dream of chasing a medal at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
“I think with experience comes confidence. And I’m still gathering the experience, so still gaining confidence,” he said.
“I am happy to be here. And I think, win or lose today, I’m going to go back to the drawing board and make sure I come back stronger. I’m already way ahead where I thought I would be at this stage.”
The Queenslander’s journey from music artist to swimming star has captivated Australia this year since he qualified for the Commonwealth Games at the Australian Swimming Championships in May.
His swimming career changed forever earlier this week when he picked up a gold medal in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay, where he swam in the heats before missing out on a spot in the final.
His dream of representing Australia had already come true this campaign when he competed in the semi-finals of the 50m butterfly.
But it has always been the 100m butterfly that he has had his eye on.
He was able to move through to Wednesday’s final with the fifth-quickest overall time, swimming a 52.16, well outside the personal best time of 51.79 he set at the Australian National Championships in May.