Michael Phelps’ race against a great white shark wasn’t really what fans expected.
The Olympian stepped up to the challenge to race three different types of sharks in honor of the channel’s annual Shark Week. The special, Phelps vs Shark: Great Gold vs Great White, aired on the Discovery Channel last night.
Phelps traveled to the colder waters of Cape Town, South Africa for the big race. He was also given a monofin in order to swim in the same style as a shark.
Many were disappointed to discover that the swimmer wasn’t actually racing a real shark as originally believed. Phelps swam against a virtual version of a shark with the assistance of CGI technology. A group of professionals recorded the speed of a hammerhead and a great white shark for the special.
“Clearly, we can’t put Michael in one lane and a shark in the far lane. We have to do a simulation,” explained Dr. Tristan Guttridge. “We’ll use our speed data that we’ve collected in all our testing.”
Phelps swam faster than the reef shark by .2 seconds, but lagged behind the hammerhead and finished two seconds behind the great white. The chilly waters proved to be more challenging for the athlete than the deadly sea creature.
“Before I dove in, I knew how cold it was going to be, and I knew that for me, as a swimmer, we don’t swim in this, and it basically just shocked your entire body,” said Phelps. “I have this little tiny wetsuit on, so it’s absolutely freezing.”
He also tweeted, “Rematch? Next time… warmer water. #SW30 @Discovery @SharkWeek.”
Many fans complained about how the event was falsely advertised.
People took to Twitter, as per usual, to express their contempt and make a few jokes.
So if you think about it, most of us have raced as many sharks as Michael Phelps.