Swimming 2023: Cody Simpson claims first international medal at Athens World Cup, retirement, Paris Olympics

Cody Simpson has claimed his first international medal, finishing in a dead-heat for second in the 100m butterfly at the World Cup event in Athens on Friday.

Simpson finished in 51.92, a tenth of a second shy of South Africa’s Matthew Sates to claim his first silverware in an international event.

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It was a strong effort from Simpson, with the time just 0.14 outside his lifetime PB had and he posted it was his “fastest unshaved/unrested 100m butterfly of my career.”

“Cool night racing some incredible fellas,” he wrote. “Garnering experience on the international stage and my first time on a podium.

“Finding some flow and was able to hit my fastest unshaved/unrested 100m butterfly of my career so far, only a few tenths off of my best. I am radically and unreservedly grateful for this journey.”

Simpson posted on his Instagram Stories that it was his “fastest unshaved 100m fly so far”, adding it was a “fun race with the boys”.

It was a good performance from Simpson who finished sixth at the last event held in Berlin last week.

While Sates is more known as a medley swimmer with African shortcourse records in 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle and 200m individual medley (IM), as well as the 2022 World Short Course champion in the 200m and 400m IMs, he was the 2021 World Cup overall male winner.

Simpson also finished alongside US Olympic gold medallist Michael Andrew. Andrew claimed his gold medal in the 4x100m medley at the Tokyo Games, where he swam the breaststroke leg in the world record performance from the US.

But while it’s not the strongest field, Simpson’s time in the 2023-24 season currently ranks seventh. Fellow Aussie Ben Armbruster has the fourth fastest time set at the last event in Berlin last week, while Japan’s Katsuhiro Matsumoto is currently ranked No. 1 for the season with a time of 51.13 from the Asian Games in September.

For the record, the fastest time in 2022-23 was France’s Maxime Grousset was 50.14 set at the World Championships in July. Aussie Matthew Temple’s 50.76 at the World Championships was good enough for the fourth fastest in the world last season.

Swimming stars were right behind Simpson’s achievement.

The man he dead-heated with, Michael Andrew, commented: “Great racing brother.”

Aussie swimming legend Ian Thorpe posted: “You’re getting there, mate. Well done.”

Two time Olympian and Simpson’s trainer Brett Hawke wrote: “I see a world-class athlete walk out.”

Asked what his goals are after claiming his first international silverware, Simpson said: “Just to get faster every time. And so far I’ve been able to do that incrementally.

“I’m over here for experience on the international stage. To be up here with these guys, who I’ve loved their swimming for years now, it’s very cool.”

But the silver medal is a big achievement for Simpson, who appeared to reveal it was Paris or bust for his swimming dreams after winning the Australian 100m butterfly and 100m freestyle titles at the Australian Short Course championships in September.

Simpson celebrated his performances in his Instagram Stories on Wednesday, posting: “Went down to Sydney last week to race during my training season,” he wrote.

“Was stoked to be relatively near personal best times while under training fatigue. Thought I’d share videos for my American mates who always wonder what the hell I’m doing.”

However, the next image featuring the medals he won had the more telling caption.

“My second and last ever Aussie shortcourse champs. It’s been real,” he posted.

Simpson has previously hinted at extending his career but his “last ever” comment appears to point to his swimming career nearing its end.

Before jumping back in the pool, Simpson dated the likes of Gigi Hadid and Miley Cyrus as he enjoyed a career as an internationally-famous popstar.

But in 2020, he stunned the world when he revealed he was putting his music career on hold to return to swimming, a sport he had excelled at as a child, including winning an Australian title as a 13-year-old.

At the time of the switch, Simpson said: “I’ll always have music, but there’s a limited time for swimming and I just want to be able to, win or lose, look back one day and say, well, at least I gave it my best shot.”

On the good side, he made his first Australian team at the Commonwealth Games and claiming gold and silver as part of the 4x100m freestyle and 4x100m medley relays after he swam heats for Australia.

He also began dating Aussie Olympic legend Emma McKeon, with the pair having bought a house together on the Gold Coast.

But he’s also tasted heartbreak, missing out on a spot at the World Championships earlier this year finishing fifth in the 100m butterfly and seventh in the 100m freestyle.

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