WATCH: Michael Phelps Raced a Great White Shark – What Happened Next?

Published 12/27/2021, 9:10 AM EST
LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 04: Michael Phelps of the United States points to the crowd from the podium after he was presented with a special award by FINA for his career achievements on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on August 4, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)


The greatest Olympian of all time, a holder of world records, Michael Phelps has done it all. During his swimming career, he broke barriers both inside and outside the pool like no one else. It is unfortunate that he had such torrid mental health struggles along the way. But, that’s the way of life, and Phelps’ legendary career is incredible.

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Out of all the best swimmers, he continues to stand out as the best for his expertise in all the strokes. Thus, this prompted fans to ask how fast he was. The curiosities became a reality as Phelps challenged a Great White Shark to a race. So who won the race?

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Is Michael Phelps faster than a Great White Shark?

Like the comparisons for Usain Bolt on the track, Phelps is often compared to many fishes on how fast he could swim. Thus, with the speeds in mind, we look at the comparisons between the two candidates. Michael Phelps won 23 gold medals in the Olympics from his 28 Olympic medals. His dominance was incredible as was his dolphin kick. So when compared to a Great White Shark, whatever the dominance showed by him, won’t matter against the terrifying predator.

OMAHA, NE – JULY 02: Michael Phelps of the United States competes in the final heat for the Men’s 100 Meter Butterfly during Day Seven of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials at CenturyLink Center on July 2, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The Great White Shark travels at a speed of 24.9 miles per hour and is one of the fastest fishes in the world. It can be as long as 15’8″ while weighing up to 1763.7 lbs. The image of the sharks comes to people’s minds when they see the movie ‘JAWS’. They gave a complete understanding of what the sharks were capable of. However, the average human swims at a pace of two miles per hour. Phelps, on the other hand, swims at a speed of six miles per hour, recorded back in 2010. Despite miles away from the shark’s top speed, there are chances he can swim to safety.

But, it’s a no contest. The sharks have a higher advantage in water and they built their predatory skills on speed.

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Did Michael Phelps race a Great White Shark?

Although racing a shark is not practically possible, Discovery Channel made everyone’s curiosities into a reality. The main event of an episode of Shark Week had Michael Phelps race with a Great White to determine the winner of the competition. Hence, they prepared bait for the shark to follow as the experts recorded a top speed of 26 miles per hour as it swam 100 meters in 36.1 seconds. As sharks cannot maintain their speeds for a long distance, the scientists gave an advantage to Phelps considering the speed of the shark.

TOPSHOT – USA’s Michael Phelps competes in a Men’s 200m Individual Medley heat during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 10, 2016. / AFP / François-Xavier MARIT (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS-XAVIER MARIT/AFP via Getty Images)

On the other hand, Phelps was given a monofin to match the speed of the shark. Hence, he swam 100-meters in 38.1 seconds while falling two seconds short of the Great White. The start of the race saw Phelps reaching a top speed of 8.8 miles per hour. Thus, with a significant advantage in the first half of the race, the shark gained speed and defeated him.

When was Phelps on Shark Week?

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The GOAT appeared on the Discovery Channel’s famous show Shark Week to test his speed against the might fish. The title of the show was Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White. It happened on July 23rd, 2017. Thus, the race solved many people’s curiosities on who would be faster through the water. Phelps even appreciated mother nature’s force as he talked about the shark.

“I think it’s impressive to see an animal survive this [cold water] and still have a top speed of 25 miles an hour,” said Phelps.

BEIJING – AUGUST 11: Michael Phelps of the United States celebrates finishing the Men’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay Final in first place to win the gold medal held at the National Aquatics Center on Day 3 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 11, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

The race saw an incredible competition between one of the fastest swimmers on the planet and a brutal predator in the water. Hence, the Great White Shark won the race, but it is impressive to see Phelps come just 2 seconds close to beating his counterpart.

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Jacob Gijy

817 articles

Jacob Gijy is a US Sports and NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Gijy finished his Masters in Counselling Psychology and worked in a hospital for 2 years before his passion for sports compelled him to find his way to sports journalism. A fan of the great Tim Duncan, he is always ready to pick up a debate with anyone who does not offer the center the respect he deserves.

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