Michael Phelps took his Olympic-winning skills from the pool to open water for a race against one of the ocean's most feared predators, the Great White Shark. Ahead of the premiere of Discovery Channel’s Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White special, the swimmer opened up to Entertainment Weekly his the highly-anticipated match and how it was safely carried out.
The greatest Olympian of all time opened up about racing a Great White Shark for his Discovery Channel Shark Week special Photo: Channel Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
“It’s hard for me to race something that has the speed that they have, and how fast they can turn on a dime is something that’s truly incredible, especially with the size of these animals,” he admitted. “I got in and did my best, and you guys are going to have to see what the outcome is.”
Safety was naturally the 32-year-old’s first concern when he was initially approached about the daring race. “The first thing that came to my mind is I wanted to make sure the safety aspect of it was there. That was the only way I was going to do it. And it was there," he confessed. "Being able to have the amount of divers that we were able to have in the water and knowing that I was safe was the biggest thing.”
Michael added, “The only thing I can say is we weren’t in a pool. We were in open water. We were very safe. We had about 15 safety divers around. For me, the biggest thing was just trying to stay warm; that was something that was extremely challenging, just because the water is 55 degrees. It’s something that a shark can survive in, and a human really can’t survive in water like that.”
While Boomer Phelps' father didn't reveal the winner of the 100 meters race, he admitted that the experience was a dream come true. “Being able to become almost face-to-face with some of the largest predators and animals that we could find is something that was exciting and just an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up," Michael shared. "It’s been a bucket list item for me for years.”
Watch Michael Phelps take on a Great White Shark July 23 at 8 p.m. ET on Discovery Channel