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From Celebrated Pop Star to Olympic Hopeful: Cody Simpson On Chasing Big Dreams, Finding Himself & Lessons Learned From Sport & Stage

By September 21, 2023September 22nd, 2023No Comments
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Episode #782



Imagine a young musician with global pop acclaim—someone like Justin Timberlake or Shawn Mendes. Except this talented singer-songwriter also happens to be an elite athlete with an Olympic dream. It sounds like fiction. But this is the true story of Cody Simpson.

Throughout his childhood, Cody spent half his days chlorine-soaked as a promising young swimmer on the rise. The other half was devoted to writing and performing songs he shared online from the humble comforts of his bedroom.

His extraordinary musical talents soon discovered, Cody traded his athletic ambitions for those artistic. Almost overnight, he entered a dizzying, disorienting period in which he was traveling the world, performing before massive crowds, acting on Broadway and in movies and television, modeling for luxury brands, and dating celebrities.

In short shrift, his dream had been made real. But something was missing. He was haunted by a feeling of emptiness—a knowing that he was living out of integrity with his higher self.

Out of an instinct for survival, he did what most considered unthinkable. He walked away from all of it. Putting LA in the rear-view, he decamped home to the Gold Coast of Australia and resuscitated the 13-year-old Cody. The kid who loved to swim. The kid with an athletic dream deferred.

What might have been had Cody not forsaken the Speedo for the stage?

It’s a question he decided to commit to answering.

World-class competitive swimming is a sport in which the elite never dare to take more than a month off here and there. A return to form after a dormant decade was considered delusional. But two years later Cody is excelling beyond expectation with world-class times in the 100-meter butterfly that have placed him within proximity of an Olympic berth, and silenced the naysayers along the way.

As a former competitive swimmer myself, I can attest to just how unprecedented this is. I wanted to know more. So when I found myself in Australia this past Spring, I tracked him down.

“Everything I’ve done has been about seeing what’s possible, and inspiring other people to discover what’s possible too.”


Today we dive into the deep end of the pool to plumb Cody’s story. We trace his arc as a musician, what he learned as a performer that now helps him as an athlete, the whys and hows behind his Olympic dream, and how you can achieve two massive and wildly different goals in a lifetime.

Cody impressed me with a maturity, composure, and grounded sense of self that belies his years. Impressive not just as an artist and an athlete but as a young man of copious talents who isn’t afraid to take risks in pursuit of his dreams. 

The visually inclined can watch it all go down on YouTube. As always, the audio version streams wild and free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Note: This conversation was recorded way back in May of 2023 on the cusp of Australia’s World Championship Trials. Alas, Cody narrowly missed qualifying for that team but is back in super-focused training. I also coaxed Cody into performing a song at the end which you are not going to want to miss, so be sure to stick around.


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