Senior Editor

By now you have surely heard the news that Michael Phelps is going to race a great white shark. It is, in nearly every sense of the word(s) the purest form of click bait ever created. And of course, it is the brain baby of Discovery Channel’s most ridiculously un-discovery week: Shark Week.

It hasn’t been exactly clear how the race is going to happen. Will Phelps and the shark actually go head to head? Will Phelps wear a zebra-striped wetsuit and a SharkBanz bracelet? Will the shark wear goggles to protect its eyes from the chlorine, or will it take place in the ocean? One question, however, that no one is asking, is who will win. That’s because the shark will win. Sharks swim very fast, and although Michael Phelps does too, he swims very fast for a human being, which is very, very slow for a great white shark. But who cares! It’s Michael Phelps racing a great white shark! The only thing that could potentially do better is if Conor McGregor were to get in a ring and fight a bear. But that’s not going to happen because that would be animal cruelty and bears are only allowed to skip rope and ride motorcycles for human entertainment. And even then, they have to be from Russia. “If he dies, he dies,” right? Are you not entertained?

Turns out, though, that Phelps, who can swim at a pretty astonishing rate of about 5 miles per hour (sharks cruise along at a leisurely pace of about 20 mph), used (the race already happened, but hasn’t aired yet) a monofin. The race was 100 meters, which is Phelps’s jam–he’s got 3 gold medals at that distance–and went down in open water, not in a pool. They did, however, set out a lane line to help Phelps swim in a straight line. No idea how they convinced the shark to do it, though. Phelps also wasn’t actually in the water at the same time as the shark, either. He did manage to get up close and personal with a couple when he went cage diving a few days prior, which is a far more exciting experience than the one I had.

“We’re not in the water at the same exact time,” Phelps explained in the interview above. “That’s the one thing we wanted everyone to know — I was safe. I had 12 to 14 divers underneath me when we were doing the race.”

You can watch Phelps lose a swimming race to a shark at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday when ‘Phelps Vs Shark: Great Gold Vs Great White’ airs.


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