Michael Phelps’ first foray into Shark Week turned out to be a ratings record-breaker for Discovery’s annual summer fin fest, averaging more than 5 million viewers. He may not have physically raced side-by-side with a great white in Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White, but he does swim with reef sharks in this evening’s closing night special, Shark School with Michael Phelps.
As you see in the sneak peek above, Phelps traveled to Bimini, the westernmost island of the Bahamas, to learn the basics from Doc Gruber and Tristan Guttridge of the Bimini Shark Lab. They taught him how to safely dive with different species — and how to stay calm when, say, a hammerhead was six inches from his face. “I guess it’s probably doing more common sense stuff than you think about,” he told Yahoo TV. “It’s not freaking out, trying not to flail your arms all over the place. Not splashing into the water and making a gigantic wave, because that’s obviously going to attract them to come up and see what’s jumping in their environment and try and check it out. … We look at these animals as dangerous animals but they’re not; they’re out there trying to survive just like we are on land.”
Shark Week fan fave Andy Casagrande, who worked as a cinematographer on both Phelps specials, says he was honored to have the Olympic great as an ambassador for Shark Week 2017 — and hopefully beyond. “He said he’s been fascinated with sharks since he was a little kid. He’s an amazing ambassador for conservation and bringing light to the issues of sharks and just getting people pumped up because he’s obviously a household name. But the coolest thing about Michael is he’s a super laid-back, down to earth, humble, and just very excited, passionate guy,” Casagrande says. “When it comes to sharks, that’s what you need.”
Shark School with Michael Phelps premieres July 30 at 8 p.m. on Discovery.
Read more from Yahoo TV:
- Shark Week Travels Far and Deep in ‘African Shark Safari’ and ‘Lair of the Sawfish’
- ‘Sharks and the City’: Why Great Whites Are Headed to L.A. — and N.Y.
- Shark Week: Science and Empathy Meet in ‘Shark Storm’ and ‘Shark Exile’
- Shark Week Preview: Why Scientists Set Themselves Adrift for 7 Days in ‘The Lost Cage’
- Shark Week: Your Burning Michael Phelps Race Questions Answered
- Shark Week Night 2 Sneak Peek: An Evening of Firsts
- Shark Week: How to Prep Great Hammerheads for an Underwater Ultrasound