Michael Phelps Once Challenged Haters for a Life-Threatening Race After Their Unrealistic Expectations Pissed Him Off

Published 06/20/2022, 9:00 AM EDT
Michael Phelps celebrates winning his 20th gold medal after a razor-thin victory in the men’s 200-meter butterfly at Rio’s Summer Olympics on Tuesday.

The GOAT, Michael Phelps, has always been a force to be reckoned with. His athletic prowess has intimidated even the strongest of opponents over the years. With 28 medals at the Olympics, Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time. Phelps also holds the record for most Olympic wins as an individual, a record previously held for over 2100 years.

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Having accomplished so much in his career, Phelps had nothing left to prove. So, he decided to complete some ‘side missions.’ One amongst which, was racing a great white shark (sort of). But he was at the receiving end of some hate for the same.

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Michael Phelps defends himself against racing a simulated shark

When the world heard Michael Phelps was going to race a great white shark, people were ecstatic. No one could wait for the epic race scheduled during Shark Week in July 2017. But people were disappointed to see a simulated version of a shark swimming beside Phelps.

After finding himself at the receiving end of hate and derogatory comments, Phelps came forth to defend himself. He said, “Everybody wants to pick on something or say something or complain about something, so … I had fun racing a shark and seeing those animals up close and personal.”

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 28: American swimmer and Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps testifies during a hearing before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of House Energy and Commerce Committee February 28, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The subcommittee held a hearing on “Ways to Improve and Strengthen the International Anti-Doping System.” (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Phelps further added, “If somebody actually wants to get in the water and race side by side with a great white, go ahead. You’re not going to get the shark to swim in a straight line. And, uh, yeah, it would be interesting to see. We’ll leave it at that.” 

He also said the questions some haters had, blew his mind. Notably, Phelps finished two seconds behind the great white in the 100m race. The event posed as the perfect way to kick off Discovery Channel’s Shark Week programming.

Not the only time a swimmer took on an animal

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Bizarre as it may be, Phelps racing a shark is not the only time a swimmer went head to head with a sea creature. An Italian swimmer has also tried his luck.

NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 28: Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps attends the Press Room at the 2016 MTV Music Video Awards at Madison Square Garden on August 28, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)

Filippo Magnini took on the challenge of racing against dolphins. He raced two dolphins in a pool near Rome in 2011. The dolphins had to swim two lengths of the pool while Filippo had to swim one. Filippo was doing well but got beat right at the end of the race.

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DIVE DEEPER

Watch: Michael Phelps Looks Unreal in His New Look as He Prepares for His Ice Bath

4 months ago

Interestingly, there are many more examples of athletes taking on an animal. Jesse Owens raced horses, Bryan Habana sprinted a cheetah, and Dennis Northcutt once faced off against an ostrich!

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Naman Gopal Srivastava

290 articles

Naman Gopal is a US Sports Writer at EssentiallySports. Naman is an Undergraduate in Journalism and Mass Communication, with a minor’s degree in Cinematography from the Maharashtra Institute of Technology. An ardent fan of basketball and soccer, Naman was once a national level soccer player himself.

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