The Battle for Ocean Supremacy

Michael Phelps Races Great White Shark


Sharks are one of the fastest and most efficient predators on the planet. And with 39 world records and 23 Olympic golds, Michael Phelps is the greatest champion to ever get in the water… But he has one competition left to win.

In an event so monumental no one has ever attempted it before, the world’s most decorated athlete takes on the ocean’s most efficient predator in PHELPS VS. SHARK: GREAT GOLD VS. GREAT WHITE, kicking off Shark Sunday, July 23 at 8p.m. ET | 5 p.m. PT

When Phelps was asked if he would consider coming out of retirement to race a great white, he immediately accepted the challenge.

“I'm probably like one of the biggest nerds for like sharks, ever.  I love animals so much. To me, this is a true dream come true and something I've always wanted to do. So, when I had the opportunity to get in the water with, whether it was a great white or a hammer, for me, I was the first one that wanted my hand out,” says Phelps.

A huge fan of Shark Week, Phelps never imagined he would get to be part of it someday.

“Having the chance to be on it, I think was a great opportunity for me, not only to learn more about sharks, but also do something that I've always wanted to do,” says Phelps.

Phelps has tremendous respect for sharks and he hopes his participation in this year’s Shark Week will bring more awareness and shed new light on understanding the elusive specie.

“You know the circle of life and trying to preserve them and leave them in their wildlife is something that we all have to always keep in the back of our mind and continue to do our best to try to make sure that we're not harming these animals,” says Phelps.

The Battle for Ocean Supremacy

“A shark doesn't want to attack us, it’s now them trying to see what you are, and, you know, what you're doing.  It's basically us on land, you know, they are the, I guess, the number one animal in the ocean.  And, they do everything day to day to survive.”

Despite all that, many think he’s crazy for getting in the water to race a shark off the coast of Cape Town. How could this possibly be safe?

“I mean, yes, we were in open water and I was completely safe and felt at ease.  Besides the cold water part of it, I mean we had 15 divers underneath me,” says Phelps.

Surprisingly, getting in the murky waters of Cape Town wasn’t what Phelps feared the most.

“The biggest thing for me, you could see how focused I was on trying to prepare myself for the cold water that was right in front of me, that I was getting ready to dive into.  Because 55 degrees and 80 degrees are so different, and it is so much colder,” says Phelps.

The Battle for Ocean Supremacy
Photo Credit: Discovery Channel

As for the specifics of the race, Phelps doesn’t want to give away too many details.

“I was able to have a specially designed fin to help me kick and move through the water almost like a shark and almost like a lot of the fish that we have in the sea,” says Phelps.

“For me, being a swimmer, obviously, I know how fast I can swim a hundred meters.  And I wanted to see how I would stack up against whether a white shark or four other sharks that are in the ocean.”
The race is on! Sunday, July 23 at 8 p.m. ET | 5 p.m. PT