The showdown between Michael Phelps and a series of sharks finally went down, and it went exactly like everyone expected. Try as he might, and with the assistance of some technology meant to help him close the gap, Phelps still got crushed by the ocean's ultimate killing machines.
Though the Discovery Channel billed it as a true race against sharks, anyone expecting Phelps to legitimately go head-to-head with a shark was left sorely disappointed. What actually happened was more of a series of simulations; an aquatic team tracked the speed of several types of sharks in their native environments, then used those projections to give Phelps a time to swim against. It was an understandable move—you try throwing sharks in an Olympic-sized pool and holding a race—it was still a bit of a letdown.
In the first race, Phelps was tasked with battling two shark simulations at once: a reef shark, and the more well-known hammerhead shark. Although Phelps ended up beating the reef shark when it, uh, tired down the stretch, the hammerhead crushed him by over three seconds, despite Phelps having a special fin on his feet to put him closer to a level playing field.
You can't really fault his effort though. Look at him stretch for that buoy!
But the headliner for the evening, the great white shark, was a little harder to corral. It took the team with Phelps a lot longer to get a good read on the shark's speed, which seems like it's really just a matter of them trying to stretch the whole thing out into an hour.
But when it finally went down, Phelps was indeed not as fast as a shark. The great white outclassed him by two full seconds, even though once again he had the assistance of technology by his side.
Interviewed by the Discovery Channel afterwards, the shark was not gracious in victory. "I mean seriously, I'm a fucking shark, what did you expect?" (Editor's Note: This did not actually happen)
The general reaction to the race(s) was one of disappointment, not because Phelps lost, but because the race was not what people were expecting.
#SharkWeek has officially jumped the shark with this Michael Phelps vs shark race thing.— PLR (@prouse62) July 24, 2017
Every swimmer watching Phelps vs Shark pic.twitter.com/3hTUXqf7QK— MICHA🅴L (@MikeClydeMadeIt) July 24, 2017
But hey, there's no shame in Phelps losing this one. Let's just hope this isn't a preview of Mayweather vs. McGregor, where one brave, underequipped man takes on the expert in their field.