Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time — a god in the pool — but you’ve probably asked yourself, Is he better than a shark?
Well, we’re all about to find out. As part of Discovery’s Shark Week, Phelps is going to race a great white shark. As Discover puts it, it’s GWS vs. the GOAT.
In the TV event, “Phelps vs. Shark: The Battle for Ocean Supremacy”, Phelps will be paired up with a great white to see which one can swim a 100m length the fastest in open water.
Of course, the two won’t be in lanes side-by-side. That would be too dangerous by a long shot. Instead, as Esquire reports, the show will get a shark to swim 100m in a straight line, and then see if Phelps can beat its time. Our money is on the shark.
“My whole life I’ve been very infatuated with sharks,” he told Esquire. “I grew up watching Shark Week, and I was always there glued to the TV. It was always during a time when I was competing.”
In a second Shark Week special, “Shark School with Michael Phelps”, the swimmer gets some first-hand lessons on sharks, including an underwater meeting with a hammerhead and a great white.
“I was really just preparing myself to be in cold water, and to be in 55-degree water is something that’s difficult to prepare for,” Phelps said of his preparation for the race. “And I will say, I am the biggest wuss when it comes to cold water.”
Phelps is probably going to lose to the shark, and that’s not just a matter of betting odds. Great whites can apparently swim up to 25 miles an hour. Phelps, at his fastest, swims about 6 miles an hour. He has said that he reached between 8 and 12 miles an hour using a special monofin attached to his feet, but that’s still a far cry from shark speeds.
But winning the race isn’t the point. It’s all about education. “Of course, people are probably going to be blown away,” Phelps said. “You see how fast they are and you get why they are on the top of the food chain.”
“There’s really not much difference between us and sharks,” Phelps adds. “We all live our day-to-day life and we try to survive, and that’s exactly what a shark is doing.”
“Phelps vs. Shark: The Battle for Ocean Supremacy” airs July 23 at 8 p.m., while “Shark School with Michael Phelps” airs July 30.