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Swimmer Cody Miller Talks Dancing, Balloon Animals, Funko Pops And More

By Karen Price | Oct. 20, 2020, 9 a.m. (ET)

Cody Miller competes during the Men's 100m Breaststroke Semi-finals at the Budapest 2017 FINA World Championships on July 23, 2017 in Budapest, Hungary.


Each Tuesday leading up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, which will be held in the summer of 2021, TeamUSA.org will introduce you to an athlete you should know prior to Tokyo – as part of the “Tokyo Tuesday” series. There’s a lot to learn on your quest to becoming the ultimate fan. Follow along on social media with the hashtag #TokyoTuesday.


Swimmer Cody Miller is an Olympic gold and bronze medalist, but his hobbies over the years include far more than just spending time in the pool.

Sure, there’s plenty of that — the breaststroke specialist recently vlogged on his YouTube channel about his new Cody Miller Swim-branded Endless Pool that he has in his backyard for training — but the 28-year-old from Bloomington, Indiana, grew up dancing and making balloon animals and has a great love for movies and Harry Potter Funko Pops, among other things.

For this week’s Tokyo Tuesday feature, TeamUSA.org caught up with the soon-to-be dad to learn about some of his interests outside of the pool.

I know you were a dancer when you were growing up, and you started because of a girl?
Yeah, that’s true. There was this girl that I had a huge crush on and I wanted to impress her. I was the only boy in dance class and I did it in sixth and seventh grades. Everyone thought I was gay. At that age you’re figuring yourself out and in middle school I was so awkward, just this awkward swimmer kid, but even then I thought it was funny that people thought about me. I was like, ‘I’m in a class with 22 girls, this is pretty great.’ The girl (I had a crush on) wasn’t impressed, but I did get a different girl out of it so it worked out. But I picked up a lot from ballet. I loved dancing. I’m not a good dancer, make no mistake, but I have great respect for dancers. I learned a lot about flexibility and mobility. 

Did you ever perform?  
We had a show at the end of each year, a big recital, and I had to perform a routine, but just in front of family and friends. Maybe 40 or 50 people. 

Now in high school, you got into ballooning (making balloon animals). Was this also because of a girl?
(Laughs) I don’t really know how I got into ballooning but I really did. It was weird. I found a balloon book in a bookstore and thought it was super interesting. I asked my mom to buy me a bunch of balloons because this was pre-YouTube and Amazon where you can just click something and have stuff delivered and learn how to do it. In high school that didn’t exist so I went to the bookstore and bought these balloon books and just taught myself how to do it. I went to my friend Billy’s birthday party and made balloon animals. I was just into weird stuff. I ordered some balloons recently to prove to my wife that I knew how.

I was going to ask if you still remembered how to make anything.
It’s kind of like riding a bike. There are certain things that aren’t that difficult to finagle together. I had to refresh myself but little teddy bears are pretty easy, and wiener dogs are pretty easy. 

You’re going to be a dad soon. You may need to brush up on those skills for birthday parties.
That’s true. I don’t know if that would be too embarrassing for my kid but that’s a risk I’ll have to take.

You’re a big movie buff. Has that always been the case? 
Oh yeah, since I was pretty young. It started with my parents, my mom and dad taking me to the movies from a young age. It was a big bonding experience. I didn’t know my dad all that well but he was into movies.

Do you have a favorite genre?
Not really. I love science fiction, fantasy, anything by Christopher Nolan. Growing up my dad was a fan of the James Bond franchise so we had every Bond film on VHS. Honestly, I like everything. My wife likes horror movies and I’m not so into that, but I like to watch pretty much everything. I even enjoy good romantic comedies. 

Do you have an all-time favorite movie?
“Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” I love that movie so much! My training partner is (fellow breaststroker and 2016 Olympic gold medalist) Lilly King and she’s like my little sister, and she’s also one of the few people I know who’s not only seen it but also loves it. We’ll say lines from the movie in practice and no one knows what we’re talking about. Then the other one is the 2001 “Ocean’s Eleven” with George Clooney and Brad Pitt. I think I was 10 and living in Las Vegas when that movie came out and they were the coolest, slickest, good-looking thieves that took down a Las Vegas casino. It still holds up.

What’s one movie that everyone loves that you think is overrated?
Hmm, nothing off the top of my head. I guess the first one that pops to mind is “The Goonies.” My wife loves it. I was more of a “Sandlot” kid.

I know you love comics, too. Are you a big collector? 
Well, my wife and I collect Harry Potter Funko Pops. We have a whole Harry Potter-themed room and we have over 200 Pops all over the walls, out of the box, on display. Funko Pops, please sponsor me. I can’t keep purchasing these. Ali and I have gone deep into the trenches finding rare ones. We have a 2015 Comic-Con Luna Lovegood exclusive, there were only 400 made, and we got one for $350, which was actually a really good deal. 

Is baby going to be allowed to play with them?
Oh yeah. There are some that definitely not, but yeah. 

Speaking of baby, you’re getting down to the final weeks. Is everything ready?
The baby room looks like a grenade went off in it but we have a lot of stuff. Ali just had her baby shower so I think we have everything, but we’re definitely not done. 

What are the emotions heading into the final stretch?
I think we’re both ready. I’m pretty calm about it most days, and Ali’s pretty good. I’m really good at giving foot rubs and head rubs so I’ve got that under control. She started snoring recently and she never snored before, but last night I slept on the couch because I couldn’t take it. She started snoring like a hyena so I left the room. Fingers crossed that’s just a pregnancy thing.

What are you most looking forward to about being a dad?
No one’s actually asked me that. I don’t now. I really don’t know. I’m really excited, I want the kid to come now, I’m tired of waiting. I want to play with the kid. The first few months don’t seem all that exciting because they don’t do a whole lot, just eat, sleep, hopefully not cry too much and just look adorable. Obviously he’s going to look great when I swaddle him. But I want him to roll stuff around on the floor with me.

Karen Price

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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