One has more Olympic gold medals than any athlete in history; the other has a series of Hollywood thrillers with depreciating returns based on their species. This summer, Michael Phelps and a great white shark will enter the water for the race of their lives.
Yes, world-class athlete star Phelps will attempt to out swim one of nature’s fastest, deadliest creatures in a made-for-TV competition for the ages. The event will be part of Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week, which kicks off July 23rd.
While it makes for gripping headlines (and, let’s face it, must-watch TV), it really doesn’t seem like much of a race. Phelps holds the records for fastest 100m and 200m butterfly, with an average speed between 5.25 and 6 mph. On the other hand, a great white shark was built to hunt and kill in the open water and clocks in at 25 mph. Maybe Phelps will have added motivation if he’s literally swimming for his life, but Discovery might want to give him a head start either way.
In promoting the underwater face-off, Discovery released the following statement (via The Hollywood Reporter):
“They are one of the fastest and most efficient predators on the planet: Sharks. He is our greatest champion to ever get in the water: Michael Phelps. 39 world records. 23 Olympic golds. But he has one competition left to win. An event so monumental no one has ever attempted it before. The world’s most decorated athlete takes on the ocean’s most efficient predator: Phelps v. Shark – the race is on!”