As part of the kickoff for Shark Week, The Discovery Channel set up a race between Michael Phelps, the greatest Olympian of all-time, and a great white shark, the ocean’s greatest predator. This setup sounds ridiculous and cheesy, but they were very methodical in their approach to it, resulting in some pretty entertaining television.
To gauge his performance against sharks, Phelps began by first racing a reef shark and hammerhead — CG of course. And he actually won!
This, of course, was a buildup to his race against a great white shark. Michael Phelps got a little help for this race. He was given a special wetsuit that was supposed to make him more streamlined and a sweet fin — similar to a great white’s — to put him on equal footing with the shark.
Here’s the full race vs. a great white:
In the end, it wasn’t quite enough for the 23-time Olympic gold medalist, but he came a lot closer than what a lot of people might have expected:
All things considered, this wasn’t as ridiculous as it could’ve been. Obviously, Phelps wasn’t going to get in the water and race a great white shark. But with a sound methodology and a few extra gadgets for him, this race made for some pretty good television.