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Retired Olympic gold medalist, Michael Phelps, took on a great white shark that kicked off Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. A group of scientist worked with Phelps to first beat a hammerhead shark and a reef shark before competing against the “big boy.” Comparing his first record, Phelps didn’t beat the hammerhead, he was able to beat the reef shark by 0.2 seconds.
The team of scientist designed a special device that records the sharks’ swimming speed. A trail of bait was placed ahead of the shark in order to entice it to follow while they measured the sharks speed. To help Phelps out, scientist created a shark-like wetsuit and a monofin to emulate a shark’s tale. If you were wondering, Phelps did not race side by side in open water with the great white- which disappointed many viewers, but unfortunately that posed too much of a high risk.
The majority of people and even Phelps himself thought he didn’t stand a chance, considering that a great white can swim up to 25 mph and Phelps top swim speed is just of 6 mph. However, working in Phelps’ favor sharks cannot sustain a high speed at long distances. In order to give Phelps a “swimming chance,” the team decided to extend the race to 100 meters since Phelps has the ability to sustain top speeds throughout a long distance.
So what was the final outcome?
THE SHARK WINS! Phelps swam the 100 meters in 38.1 seconds, while the shark swam the same distance in 36. Losing by just a slim two seconds is still extremely impressive. The controversial shark race scored 5 million views; the highest-rated Shark Week telecast in Discovery’s history.