Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer to ever pull on a Speedo and he’ll likely remain so until the year 2048, when the Olympic Committee finally starts letting cyborgs in the pool (or until Katie Ledecky finishes dominating the women’s field). He’s enjoyed years of almost superhuman success, competed in four Olympics and earned 28 medals, 23 of them gold. You could say that, in terms of human competition, he’s conquered every possible foe.
But there are other things to swim against.
This year, during Discovery’s annual Shark Week, Phelps will dive into “Great Gold vs. Great White,” a swimming event that is exactly what it sounds like: The greatest Olympian ever racing a great white shark.
Here, let us play “Eye of the Tiger” for you while you read.
“They are one of the fastest and most efficient predators on the planet: Sharks,“ Discovery writes in a press release. "He is our greatest champion to ever get in the water: Michael Phelps. 39 world records. 23 Olympic golds.
“But he has one competition left to win. An event so monumental no one has ever attempted it before. The world’s most decorated athlete takes on the ocean’s most efficient predator: Phelps v Shark — the race is on!”
Discovery has not yet laid out the details for Phelps v Shark: Dawn of Justice, so we don’t know exactly how this will go down. Sharks are always moving, of course, so presumably all you’d have to do is lay out some kind of cage track and give it some meaty incentive to move in a straight line as quickly as possible. Then what? Will Phelps get his own lane beside the shark? Does the shark know how to obey the starting gun? Is this just a time vs. time contest? Does the shark know how to do that weird arm flap thing Phelps does before every swim?
It’s likely that this showdown can’t possibly live up to whatever we’re all imagining in our heads – Which is obviously Phelps "racing” for his very life as the shark chases him down, right? – but it will still qualify as must-see Shark Week TV. Plus, if it goes well and Phelps is game, we can just continue these match-ups until we’ve covered all sea life. Imagine the possibilities. Two Arms vs. Eight: Phelps Races an Octopus. Deadliest Catch: Phelps Goes Crabbin’. And of course the inevitable Disney/Pixar animated spectacular, Finding Phelps.
“Great Gold vs. Great White” will air at a still-unannounced time in late July. While you wait, revisit the fury of the Phelps Face.