When Discovery announced Michael Phelps would kick off Shark Week by racing a Great White, we all thought they would race side by side. We really did, despite the obvious risks and even Phelps himself reaching out to reassure us he would not, in fact, race a real shark. Still we had hope, but fans were disappointed to learn on Sunday night the race was actually Phelps and a few computer simulations.
Although he beat the computer simulation of a Reef shark, the Hammerhead easily beat Phelps with a final burst of speed. From there, various scientists and specialists prepped Phelps for the final race with wet suits and a special fin like device for his feet. After an hour, excitement built towards crux moment of the race against the Great White. Even an hour in, there was hope he would race a real shark. Alas there was no Great White and to little surprise, he did not win. Although he was just 2 seconds slower than the goliath fish, keeping up until the end when the Great White barrels into the deep water and breeches onto the finish line. Shark Week tweeted a video of the final seconds of the race when the shark wins, but remember, there was no shark in the water at the time.
Phelps blamed the loss mainly on the cold water, as the temperature of the ocean the day he raced was in the mid 50s. Olympic pools range from 77-82 degrees. Plus, he covered 100 feet in an impressive 38 seconds. He took to Twitter shortly after the race to call a rematch:
Beyond the disappointing realization we would not see Phelps next to a shark while racing, besides the CGI Great White in the Olympic pool, Phelps did get up close and personal with the animals.
Of course, fans could not help themselves and also took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the race:
So it turns out Michael Phelps is only racing a simulation of a shark. If he wins, next week he goes up against Mario Kart. #SharkWeek— T.R. Morley (@TheRealMorley) July 24, 2017
Me pretending to be ok with Michael Phelps not racing a real shark pic.twitter.com/QnCF98NfBB— Gabi Palamone (@Yo_Gabi_Gabi__) July 24, 2017
Maybe next year we can hope for a real race with a real shark.