Great Gold VS. Great White

Michael Phelps has broken a new swimming record while simultaneously losing a race. Nearly 5 million viewers tuned in to Discovery Channel on July 23, crushing all previous ratings for the event. While he is arguably the most decorated Olympian of our time, Phelps sought to challenge himself with the world’s most infamous apex predator: the Great White shark.

A Fierce Opponent

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Michael Phelps has never been one to shy away from friendly competition. In his most recent race however, it is hard to say whether or not Phelps’ competitor was anything close to that.

All Jaws and Sharknado references aside, the Great White is quite fearsome due to its size and teeth. It can reach speeds of up to 25 mph, and can kill a human with only one bite. The Great White is known to cause more fatal attacks on humans than any other shark.

Although it is not known for its speed, it certainly is known for its ferocity. So naturally, Phelps decided to get into the water and race one. Or did he?

Pulling A “Fast” One

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Leading up to the Discovery Channel’s most popular broadcast week, the news of Phelps’ endeavor spread across airwaves creating a lot of hype. It was made to seem that Phelps would be swimming side by side with his competition. Immediately before the unique race was aired to kick off Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, it was revealed that Phelps would be racing a computer generated Great White shark. Needless to say, many were disappointed.

Fake It So You Make It

While Phelps swam his signature butterfly stroke in the ocean, he was fitted with a fin-like apparatus to give him an advantage over the shark. However, the fin wasn’t the only fake item involved in the race. The shark used was a CGI image that mimicked the speed and movement of a Great White Shark. It looked… somewhat real.

Everyone knows how dangerous this race would be, so why would anyone think it’s real? Although there have been a few people to swim with Great White sharks and had no harm come to them, it is important to note there was no racing involved. Sharks are attracted to not only blood but vibrations in the water. Phelps’ thrashing around while swimming as fast as he can would have increased the likelihood of him becoming supper before ever reaching the finish line.

First of all, there is no way an entire TV network is going to risk the life of a beloved Olympian. Can you imagine recovering from that lawsuit?

Understandably, people are still upset or at least mildly annoyed by this mishap. Shark Week is sacred, and to mislead viewers like this until the last minute is blasphemy. Discovery Channel has had a good run with Shark Week over the past 25 years, and as long as this doesn’t happen again, there will hopefully be many more to come.