Cody Simpson has fuelled his Olympics ambition with a statement swim to win the Queensland 100m butterfly title in Brisbane.
The former pop star took 0.11 seconds off his personal best to win in 51.67 on Monday night, equalling the Paris Olympic qualification time in the process.
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The 26-year-old then backed it up to finish fifth in the 100m freestyle final at Brisbane Aquatic Centre.
But the popstar-turned-swimmer still has some ground to make up if he is to qualify for Paris in butterfly, currently sitting equal ninth on the Australian rankings alongside Olympian Chris Wright.
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His latest solo effort puts him in the frame for an individual berth that could be secured at June’s Olympic trials, but Australian record holder Matthew Temple (50.45) is expected to set the pace, meaning Simpson will be left to fight it out for the second individual butterfly spot on the team, though he will also have chances to qualify for the Games in relays.
His efforts came hours after girlfriend and 11-time Olympic medallist Emma McKeon was forced out of the event with injury.
Simpson put his music career on hold to return to the pool in 2020, making the 100m butterfly final at the 2021 Olympic trials but missing a spot on Australia’s Games team.
Cody Simpson’s Olympic dream is alive. Credit: Getty
He then won Commonwealth Games gold and silver medals for heat swims in the 4x100m freestyle and 4x100m medley relays in Birmingham last year.
“I’m so glad it was here tonight,” Simpson said of his new benchmark.
“It’s awesome to be looking forward to Olympic trials; it’s really important to race well.
“I grew up racing in this pool and it’s great to get a Queensland open championship.”
Earlier, McKeon was ruled out of the event with a torn muscle in a blow to her Games preparation.
Australia’s most decorated Olympian was due to race alongside Cate Campbell in Monday’s 100m freestyle heats.
Cody Simpson is striving to join his partner Emma McKeon at the Olympics next year. Credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
But her lane was empty, coach Michael Bohl later confirming she had been withdrawn as a “precaution”.
Bohl said McKeon had been managing “a minor tear under her armpit for some weeks” and that the medical advice was to not rush back into competition.
The championships are the last meet of the year and Olympic trials will take place from June 10, some five weeks before the 2024 Games in Paris.
McKeon won four golds at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, and seven medals in total.
It was the most by any female swimmer at a single Olympic Games and the joint-most medals across any sport with Soviet gymnast Maris Gorokhovskaya, who achieved the feat in 1952.
The meet also served as Campbell’s first steps towards becoming the first Australian to swim at five Olympics.
The 31-year-old, who has returned this year after a lengthy break following the Tokyo Games, finished third in the 100m freestyle final.
Campbell clocked 53.23 to finish behind Meg Harris (53.03) and Shayna Jack (52.76).
And Ariarne Titmus cruised to victory in the 400m freestyle final on Monday night, her first title since revealing in September she had benign tumours removed from an ovary.
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