Heartbreak for Cody Simpson after swimming a personal best in a race that didn’t count – but here is how the pop star turned swimmer can still reach the Olympics

  • Failed to reach the 100m freestyle final 
  • Is now at the mercy of the discretion of selectors 
  • Has one final shot on Saturday in his pet event 

Cody Simpson’s extraordinary bid to reach the Olympics after pausing his music career is not dead in the water yet, despite suffering heartbreak after delivering a personal best swim in a race that didn’t count. 

With the cameras turned off and the crowd dispersing, Simpson swam his best ever on Thursday night in the B final of the 100m freestyle.

This swim was good enough to secure a position on the Australian Olympic team for the Paris Games, but it doesn’t count.

Simpson missed the 100m freestyle A final by less than two-tenths of a second. 

As a result, he had to compete in the B final. He won the race with a time faster than he’d ever swum before. 

If he had achieved this time in the A final, he would be on the Paris Olympic team. His 48.67 seconds would have placed him sixth.

Simpson failed to make the A final of the 100 metre freestyle, but won the B final in a personal best time that would have qualified him for the Olympics

Simpson, who put his music career on pause to try and realise his Olympic dream, is now at the mercy of the discretion of selectors to qualify for the relay team

Simpson, who put his music career on pause to try and realise his Olympic dream, is now at the mercy of the discretion of selectors to qualify for the relay team

Simpson also has another chance to live his Olympic dream, by qualifying in the top two of his pet event the 100m butterfly on Saturday

Simpson also has another chance to live his Olympic dream, by qualifying in the top two of his pet event the 100m butterfly on Saturday

It was a personal best for Simpson. Had he swum faster in the heats, it could have influenced the selectors to pick him for the 4x100m relay. 

Simpson’s time of 49.04 was the 10th fastest in Thursday’s heats. Typically, the top six swimmers are selected for the freestyle relays, but the fifth and sixth spots can be discretionary.

The swim took place when most of the crowd had left the Brisbane Aquatic Centre late on Thursday night. 

It remains a promising sign for Simpson’s 100m butterfly on Saturday. Australia’s Olympic swimming team will be announced on Saturday night after the final day of competition.

There is now pressure on selectors to possibly ‘bend their rules’ to select Simpson. 

However Simpson’s bid to become an Olympian will likely hinge on his performance in the 100m butterfly, his preferred event. 

‘It’s a stacked field in the 100 free so I knew it was going to be a bit iffy trying to get into that final,’ Simpson told reporters. 

‘It’s a good warm-up for the 100 fly.’

Simpson is looking on the bright side, saying his strong 100m swim would prepare him well for his butterfly attempt

Simpson is looking on the bright side, saying his strong 100m swim would prepare him well for his butterfly attempt

Simpson is hoping to compete at the Olympics with his superstar partner Emma McKeon, who will be competing in her last games in Paris

Simpson is hoping to compete at the Olympics with his superstar partner Emma McKeon, who will be competing in her last games in Paris

Simpson needs to finish in the top two of the 100m butterfly final and hit Swimming Australia’s Olympic qualification time of 51.17 seconds. His personal best is 51.67, which meets World Aquatics’ qualification standard.

Simpson’s parents, Angie and Brad, both swam for Australia at major games. A promising junior swimmer, Simpson won two gold medals at the Queensland state championships in 2009 at age 12.

In 2009, he posted songs on YouTube and was discovered by an American music manager. His family moved to Los Angeles in 2010, and Simpson became a worldwide pop star who appeared on Broadway and numerous TV shows.

In 2020, he returned to swimming to aim for the Paris Olympics. ‘Seems like yesterday it was 2020, getting back in the water raw and wildly unfit having not swum or competed since I was a little boy,’ the 27-year-old posted on Instagram.

‘I’ve given everything I have morning and night in training to see what I can get out of myself; burnt every boat I could burn in the pursuit. I do all of this for the 12-year-old kid in me. He’d be so stoked to know everything that’s happened.’

Simpson made Australia’s team for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. He won a gold medal as a heat swimmer in Australia’s 4x100m freestyle relay, placed fifth in the 100m butterfly final, and reached the semis in the 50m ‘fly.

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