Michael Phelps Loses Race vs. Great White Shark on Shark Week

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJuly 24, 2017

FILe - In this Aug. 28, 2016 file photo, Michael Phelps poses in the press room at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York. Phelps is participating in Discovery network's Shark Week this summer. The week of shark-themed programming in mid-summer is annually Discovery's biggest event.  (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
Evan Agostini/Associated Press

Not even the most decorated Olympian of all time can keep up with a great white shark.

Michael Phelps helped kick off the 2017 edition of Discovery Channel's annual Shark Week on Sunday with a race against a shark in Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White. The 23-time Olympic gold medalist finally met his match and lost the made-for-television race.

Shark Week shared the race between the two swimming machines:

Shark Week @SharkWeek

The moment of glory for #TeamShark!!! #PhelpsVsShark #SharkWeek https://t.co/NWYp1CwiRa

Ever the competitor, Phelps was itching for a rematch merely minutes after Sunday's show aired:

Michael Phelps @MichaelPhelps

Rematch? Next time..warmer water. #SW30 @Discovery @SharkWeek

There was plenty of buildup for this event, and the scientists on Discovery Channel spent much of the time explaining how fast sharks truly are and demonstrated new wetsuits for Phelps to use.

There was also a demonstration of what a shark would look like in one of Phelps' Olympic races.

Discovery Channel shared some of the footage on its YouTube page:

While Phelps was focused on beating a shark in the race, he also got an up-close look at the animal's power in open water. Shark Week captured some of the notable moments:

Shark Week @SharkWeek

We're about THREE MINUTES from the race. Get to @Discovery NOW for #PhelpsVsShark. #SharkWeek https://t.co/KDFcMK5qdx

Shark Week @SharkWeek

THAT'S A SHARK. SAW THAT ONE. #SharkWeek https://t.co/LwLxyPpirb

Phelps will always have his many triumphs against human competitors to fall back on after Sunday's failure, and Yahoo Sports remembered a famous one against South Africa's Chad le Clos:

Yahoo Sports @YahooSports

Let's do this. #PhelpsvsShark https://t.co/pnBjCFB1is

It was unrealistic to expect Phelps to actually beat a great white shark or get in the water with the feared creature, but Gary Parrish of CBS Sports still reacted to the buildup and lack of an actual one-on-one race instead of a computer simulation:

Gary Parrish @GaryParrishCBS

Turns out “Michael Phelps races a shark” was really just “Michael Phelps swims alone and then compares his time to a shark’s time.”

Phelps will have to stick to racing humans...probably.


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