Cody Simpson’s impressive swim in the semi-finals of the men’s 100m butterfly may not have been what Emma McKeon needed before she was about to go out and make history.
The singer turned swimmer moved through to the end of the 100m butterfly, continuing his remarkable return to swimming — as well as giving McKeon a scare in the process.
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The 25-year-old will join countryman Matt Temple in the decider after qualifying fifth-fastest for the race, scheduled for Wednesday morning (AEST).
Simpson was sluggish out of the blocks in his semi-final but found his groove to be second at the turn. It looked like he was in danger of being hunted down at death but he held on to finish third with a time of 52.16 seconds.
Heading into these Commonwealth Games it was Simpson’s ambition to make an individual final, and he has done just that – but will be hoping to go even further.
“Pretty wild, pretty special. That was my goal to make sure I got into the final – just relieved that I am,” he told Channel 7 on the pooldeck.
McKeon appeared to be just as relieved.
Asked how Simpson was handling things after she won a historic 12th gold medal in the 50m butterfly, McKeon revealed her heart was racing when watching Simpson race, half an hour before she walked out onto the pooldeck for her event.
“I was very excited for him,” she told Channel 7.
“I get that when watching him and other people that are close to me, more than I do for my own races. I am excited to watch him tomorrow night.”
Simpson revealed earlier it has been hard for him watching McKeon as well this week — even though she has delivered a golden avalanche in the Birmingham pool, breaking the record for the most gold medals ever won at the Commonwealth Games.
Simpson had missed the previous two previous night sessions when McKeon won gold medals because he had been back at his room preparing for his next event.
However, he was there with the rest of the Aussie team cheering her on as she collected her gold medal on Tuesday morning.
“I was watching her back at the Village, 50m free, it was hard because I was trying not to get excited because I had to keep something in the tank for my morning,” he said.
“It is hard, you want to stay focused but you want to be absolutely supportive of her too.
“I feel like every time I look over, she is racing. Ella she has a harder job than I do but she is handling it awesome. ”
Simpson won a gold medal earlier in the Games after an impressive performance in the heats of the 4x100m freestyle relay, which Australia went on to win in a Commonwealth Games record in the final.
Although he wasn’t part of the team in the final, Simpson still takes home a gold medal because he participated in the heats.
In the 100m butterfly heats on Monday night (AEST), Simpson made the surprising comment that he had been able to take it easy in the heats on the way through to the semi-finals.
“I was quite calm,” he told Channel 7.
“Knew I had to get through the next round, tick the box off, try to swim it as comfortably as I could without spending too much for tonight. Quite happy with it.”
Kyle Chalmers was scheduled to swim in the 100m butterfly, but revealed on Monday night he was pulling out to focus on his 100m freestyle final – which he won on Tuesday morning.
Chalmers’ decision to add butterfly to his program at this year’s national championships caused a stir, as it forced Simpson out of the Australian team for the world championships in Budapest.
There were suggestions at the time Chalmers’ butterfly move was sparked by Simpson’s relationship with Emma McKeon, but the Rio Olympic gold medalist fiercely denied that.