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Fans of Discovery’s Shark Week were thrilled when they learned Michael Phelps would be racing a great white shark on Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White. The widely publicized race garnered lots of attention on social media and was a trending topic on Twitter.
— natali ♡ (@tremnatali) July 24, 2017
Unfortunately for Discovery, most of the viewer feedback from the show was frustration. It seems that many viewers thought Phelps was going to literally race a great white shark. But the behavioral ecologist leading the experiment, Dr. Tristan Guttridge, disappointed thousands when he said, “Clearly, we can’t put Michael in one lane and a white shark on the far lane. We have to do simulation.”
"Clearly we can't have Phelps race side by side with a shark."
THEN WHY AM I WATCHING THIS??
— Russell Hawkins (@mudpuppy) July 24, 2017
Researchers performed a few experiments to gather shark data and then formulated a simulation. The race was actually Phelps swimming in the open ocean while a CGI shark swam alongside him.
Considering a great white can swim 25 miles per hour and Phelps’ fastest recorded speed is 6 mph, it wasn’t all that surprising Phelps lost to the shark — even while wearing a sharkskin suit and a monofin.
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
Despite the the frustration for some, it was still impressive to watch the most decorated Olympic athlete take on one nature’s most notorious predators. Even if it was just CGI.
Learn more about Michael Phelps’s cool monofin:
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