Since 1988, Shark Week has been a massive annual event for the Discovery Channel, showcasing everything that makes sharks so fascinating. But this year, the network is doing something a little bit different: they'll show a man racing a great white shark.
But it's no average man — but rather, the greatest swimmer in the world, Michael Phelps.
Back in June, the Discovery Channel announced that the 28-time Olympic medalist would go one-on-one with a great white for Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White. Ever since that announcement, the internet has lost its collective mind on social media — we can't wait to watch this special. It seems that the only person who hadn't really expressed their thoughts was Phelps himself. Until now.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Phelps explained that his primary concern was that the stunt would be 100 percent safe, but otherwise he was excited for the opportunity due to his love for sharks:
"For me, sharks have always been something that have been extremely fascinating, so [this was a] chance to learn about more about the different species in the world. I mean, before Shark Week, the only shark I’d really ever been close to was a whale shark when I was free-diving in the Maldives. So I was like, 'Okay, let’s just have fun with this and see what happens.' And sure enough, I was able to learn a lot more about wildlife and sharks."
While Phelps's highest recorded speed is five miles per hour, a great white can hit speeds as fast as 25 miles per hour. But this didn't stop Phelps from agreeing to race one anyway:
"I know in a race I have reached a little over 5 miles an hour, and a white can swim up to 25 miles an hour... Being in the water and seeing how fast they can go in a straight line over an extended period of time was intriguing to me. I was like, 'Yeah, sure, why not? Let’s see who would win a race.'"
Both Phelps and the shark will be swimming a distance of 100 meters, and Phelps calls the experience something he will never forget. Phelps was also asked about his chances to appear in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, to which he responded:
"Very minimal. I wanted to retire on my own terms and never have a what-if, and I’m to that point where I’m very content with everything that’s going on. Being able to welcome our amazing son into the world and to be happy, I can’t ask for anything more...I’ve come a long way. And even though I am out of the pool and I’m not competing anymore, I’ll still involved in the sport — and still involved with water."
Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White will air July 23 on the Discovery Channel.
Are you excited to see Michael Phelps race a great white shark? Let me know in the comments below!