According to Olympic champion Grant Hackett, Cody Simpson is heading to this week’s Australian Swimming Championships with a legitimate chance to secure a place in the Commonwealth Games.
The pop star could get a place in his first national team in the 100m butterfly on Wednesday night, although he will face stiff competition from the likes of Kyle Chalmers, Matt Temple and David Morgan.
Simpson reached the final of that event at last year’s national titles, earning a credible eighth place despite limited preparation after being out of the pool for many years.
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Hackett, who will cover election trials for the Amazon Prime video, said Simpson was heading to Adelaide.
“He’s tracking incredibly well,” he told Wide World of Sports.
“I actually talked to Cody about 2-3 weeks ago, and he had some ups and downs. He had shoulder problems which meant getting some rest, but that meant he could do a little more work on his legs.
“It was a good opportunity to work on other things, which shows that he has really got his head down in terms of his vision for improvement.”
Despite the strain on his shoulder, Hackett noted that Simpson is a much more skilled swimmer than he was in last year’s national title race.
“It was probably the first real test in the last few years, where everything is not going well as opposed to when you feel good and everything is going well.
“After that, he actually turned around and now he’s swimming faster than he did last year’s trial, when he’s fully working.
“His 50 Fly looks good, his 100 Fly looks good, even his 100 Freestyle, he keeps posting 50.0 even though he’s not tapping or shaving.”
The national championships were doubled as selection trials for both the World Championships in June and the Commonwealth Games in July.
The top two in each event will find a place in the team to win the World Cup in Budapest, where the top three will travel to Birmingham.
According to Hackett, Simpson’s best chance is to get an extra place in the Commonwealth Games team.
“I think this is the most realistic opportunity for him this year,” he explained.
“Look, it’s still going to be an extension, but it’s not unrealistic to say that, considering the time he’s making.
“I’ve always said that although last year’s Olympic team was unrealistic, people moved away with the hype, but I said at the time that it would be interesting if he made it to the finals, and he did.
“This year, getting a medal is something that is much more likely than 12 months ago.”
Although many dismissed Simpson’s early adventures as a stunt, it ignores the fact that he was a national swimmer as a child.
That’s why Hackett is confident that Simpson’s rivals will take the 25-year-old seriously.
“Cody is 100 per cent committed to the game and the preparation it takes to become one of these national teams and represent Australia,” he said.
“We’re going to see a Cody Simpson that is faster and more serious and more competitive than last year.
“It’s starting to be real for her competitors now that Cody is looking for a medal this time, not just a final.”
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