Discover may have gone off the deep end - their next Shark Week TV special will pit Michael Phelps in a race against a shark.
The retired athlete and 23 time Olympic Gold Medal winner is set to come out of retirement for a very special race to be televised on Discovery Channel. In honor of Shark Week, and in order to raise the stakes in the ever increasing ridiculousness of the theme, Discovery has decided to pit the fastest human to ever swim against the ocean’s most fearsome predator: a great white shark.
On the surface, this doesn’t seem like much of a race. Michael Phelps may be the fastest human swimmer, having 7 world records to his name, but his actual recorded top speed is around 10 kph (or 6 mph), which doesn’t sound too fast considering the average runner can get up to 17 kph. Compared to great whites, we’re all sloths, though, as they can reach a top speed of 56 kph in short bursts.
If Phelps is to hold any hope of victory it’s in the words “in short bursts”.
Great white sharks are opportunistic hunters and prefer to prey on less vigorous marine mammals, like sickly seals - in other words, animals that won’t be able to maintain a high-speed chase for very long. After a quick thrust from its powerful musculature, the great white relies on surprise and an extremely hydrodynamic body in order to capture its prey in deadly jaws.
However, the fact that the great white is a particularly lazy hunter may work to Phelps’ advantage. If he can maintain a pace of 10 kph for an hour or more he may be able to beat out the great white and take home gold in yet another underwater race. Or maybe the great white will simply get hungry and eat the prolific swimmer, ending the race in a technical disqualification. One hopes that Phelps will be bringing his shark-proof swim trunks.
Shark Week is set to kick off July 23, with Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White being the second show starting at 8 PM EST.