SWIMMER Q&A: CATCHING UP WITH CODY MILLER
2019 May | By
By Rachel Lutz, Swim Writer
Q. How do you feel like you did in Des Moines in March, your first big meet back since nationals?
CM: I went times that were just off my fastest in-season times. The fastest times I’ve ever gone in-season, you know, without a shave. That’s a win. It made me realize how much fun it is just racing, just being competitive again. I went basically nine months without really racing, without really being competitive. For someone who legitimately lives a lifestyle predicated on trying to race at a high level, not being able to do that for so long really sucks. It’s hard mentally and it’s not very fun. I had fun again, which is a huge win. I did well again. I was just really happy about it.
Q. Have you done anything in training differently in those nine months?
CM: Yeah! 100 percent. Because of my injury and because of everything I’ve put my knee through, I’m kind of to the point now where I physically can’t sustain the same volume of swimming that my body used to. I had to sit down with my coaches and reassess, and figure out, ‘What can we do? How do we maximize what I’m physically capable of doing without overdoing it? Without over-working, without tearing down the tissue surrounding the joint again?’
My training is so different than it used to be, but it’s also fun. Every season changes right? You make changes to your training here and there. but never more than like 10 to 15 percent. You always want to make small changes. but for me it was like, I was forced into a position where I had to make drastic changes. I was fortunate to have a team of people that were smart and specialized in ‘OK, we know how to heal your knee. We can do this. It’s just going to take time. But once we heal it, because of the damage that [your] body has sustained, how do we find a way to train without reinjuring it and without overdoing it?’ I’m 27 years old, and my knees have aloooot of mileage. A lot of breaststroke over 20 years. That’s also a new challenge. I can look at it as a challenge now because I’m healthy and I’m able to swim fast again. Before it was daunting and it wasn’t really a fun challenge – at all, it sucked.
Q. You explained a lot of the details of your injury in the first YouTube video that you posted after Nationals. What was the reception to that video? Was it your most-watched video ever?
CM: It’s not my most-watched video, but I will say for the length of the video, it did get a substantially high number of views. That video was 20 minutes long. To have that many views – especially because when I released that video a little less than a year ago, my channel was half the size. In perspective, it’s definitely one of my most-watched videos.
The feedback that I got has been pretty tremendous, pretty amazing. I get people still to this day when I go to meets, people thanking me for my candidness and my openness discussing these things. I understand it. When I was a little kid, I would’ve done anything to have any kind of interaction with the people I idolized. Guys like Eric Shanteau, Brendan Hansen and the American breaststrokers that I looked up to. If there was a TV show, every week a 10-minute episode about them, I would’ve consumed the living hell out of that. I wanted to know everything about them.
I’ve gotten – particularly from that video, a lot of positive responses from people saying that they appreciate understanding that it’s not just me. I’m not the only national team swimmer who’s had an injury or who’s had an off season or who’s had a struggle. But I guess I’m probably one of the most open people about it. I’m realizing that being open like that, there’s so much to be gained. A lot of people can take different things from it.
I started a new show, “The Cody Miller Show,” where I take questions and interact with people. I do that on a weekly basis. I think I’m the only swimmer really in the world doing that on a regular basis. I think there’s only two other swimmers who even have YouTube channels and I’m the only one who’s putting out that much content where I’m directly interacting with people who watch my stuff.
Q. Who is your audience? Strangers, swimming fans? How do they find you?
CM: YouTube analytics gives me the breakdown of my demographics. The bulk of my audience is between the ages of 16-24; I’m sure part of that audience is kids who are younger who aren’t allowed to have YouTube channels but just sign up anyways [laughter]. It’s a pretty even split, 50/50 men, women. Half of my audience is in the United States, a little over 50 percent. Other people are outside. I would say as a guess, I would say 75 percent of my audience is swimmers who are directly linked to the swimming world.
But I actually get a surprising number of people who’ve dropped comments on my videos or send me messages on Instagram, or send me emails, saying they don’t really understand much about swimming but they just enjoy my vlogs for what they are: entertainment with a little bit of my personality being positive at times, when oftentimes swimming sucks. There’s something very beneficial in doing something that you don’t want to do and doing it with a good attitude. And getting something out of that. That’s kind of what I do in my swimming vlogs.
My friends will screenshot me people saying, “I don’t even swim but I just like watching your videos!” That’s kind of weird, but cool too. It’s rewarding.
Q. That’s not the only multimedia you’re producing right now – you have a movie podcast?
CM: I have two friends that live in Hollywood. One is John Campea and he’s a very famous online film pundit. He’s a great dude and a very prominent figure in the film punditry industry. Another friend of ours is a guy named Robert Meyer Burnette. He is a writer/director/producer in Hollywood – he directed a Star Trek film. He’s editing a film right now. He’s a bigtime dude in Hollywood. I became friends with them a few years ago just because I watched some of the shows they produced. I would talk movies with them and John and I for a while have been like, ‘man, we should do a podcast together.’ We finally came up with this idea and it’s evolved into a movie podcast where we take a category of movies and we talk about the best movie in the category and the worst movie in the category. Then we debate the merits of both. It’s really fun.
Q. Harry Potter was a franchise I wanted to ask about, too. When did you first fall in love with the series?
CM: I first fell in love with Harry Potter when I was 10 years old in 2002. The first Harry Potter movie came out and I remember my mom taking me to go to see it at the Sun Coast Resort in Las Vegas. I loved it. You know what I mean? It was a bonding experience with me and my mom going to that movie. She used to take me to movies. I loved it. immediately after the movie we went and bought the first few books. I read the first few books and then it was history. I was waiting in line for all the books to come out. Went to the midnight showings of the movies when they came out. Total hardcore fan. I’ve re-read them so many times. I love them. It’s a magical escape.
Q. Will you dress up the next time you’re at the theme park?
CM: I talked to my wife and I said, ‘we have to bring our robes!’ We have robes. She said she can’t because she re-took the test. I have a Slytherin robe because I was judged to be in House Slytherin. She was a Gryffindor. And she has since retaken the test and now she’s a Slytherin. She said she can’t wear her Gryffindor robe. I said, ‘well then, we’ll have to buy new robes.’ I don’t know. I’m definitely going to pack it. It’s probably going to happen. Let’s be real.
Q. Which movie have you been most excited for? Avengers: Endgame or Joker?
CM: Definitely more excited about the Avengers. There’s been too much build up. That’s a pretty easy question. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thoroughly excited for the Joker movie. The Joker is my favorite movie villain of all time.
But there’s been too much build up. I’ve gone and seen every MCU movie in theaters. That’s 22 movies. Every single movie I’ve seen in theaters. I’ve rewatched all of them. I love that universe that they’ve built. They’re just fun movies. What they did with the last few films, the story arc and the overall character development, all these characters that we’ve fallen in love with over the years, it’s basically a glorified soap opera done on a ridiculously high-budget scale. It’s done so well that people have been following it for a decade. It’s been a 10-year buildup to this movie. It’s really no question. That’s gotta be the most anticipated movie of the year. I’m psyched.
Q. Speaking of things that are going on a decade old – is it true that you still have Iron Man in your swim bag?
CM: So, it’s true and it’s not true. I took that photo after I made the Olympics because that little Iron Man toy had been in my bag since … the first Iron Man movie came out in 2008. Basically it had been eight years. And then my dog got a hold of it and chewed it up a bit! I still have it. I’ll probably still throw it back in my bag when I go to a big meet, no question. Gonna keep that.
I’m not superstitious or anything like that. I could care less who gets up on the block last and I don’t have to wear the same underwear or anything weird like that. But it’s a reminder. I didn’t do it on purpose. I just left it in my bag. It reminded me of the time when I was in high school and didn’t have any worries and everything was good. It was just there. I still have it – just a little chewed up. [laughter]