How Michael Phelps Prepared to Race a Great White Shark

What kind of competition could dominate a swimmer with mixed Olympic bullion medals? How about a good white shark?

On Sunday, Michael Phelps—the many flashy Olympian in history—will, indeed, face off opposite one of nature’s many means swimmers for Discovery’s Shark Week. To be clear, Phelps will not be swimming in a pool, with a shark in an adjacent lane. (As a swimmer put it, “I don’t consider that would substantially finish really well.”) Instead, a dual will any float 100 meters in a same open water, and their times will be compared. Perhaps this process of racing is a small reduction visually stimulating, though good value it to safeguard that a universe doesn’t remove one of a many means swimmers.

Still: how, exactly, does one prepared for a clearly unfit competition opposite one of nature’s many aquadynamic beasts?

“It’s a lot opposite than what I’ve ever been used to,” Phelps pronounced of his preparations. The biggest hurdle? Probably not what we think: “The heat was unbelievably cold, and we hatred cold water,” Phelps admits. “So creation that transition—I consider that’s a biggest thing that we had to get my mind prepared for.” There was copiousness of reserve staff around, Phelps noted, so mortal risk was not a genuine concern.

To be clear, a man—any man—racing a shark is a flattering unfit task. Phelps clocks his tip speed during 5 to 5.5 m.p.h.; a good white can strike bursts of 25 m.p.h. In environment adult a 100-meter race, Phelps and Discovery wanted to see if Phelps’s continuation could assistance him exist a shark, dusk things out in a end.

One essential member of Phelps’s training was a preparation portion, during that he went to shark school. (An whole special about that will atmosphere on Jul 30.) There, Phelps came face-to-face with several forms of sharks, even diving in a cage. Luckily, his believe was distant improved than Mandy Moore’s in 47 Meters Down. “We schooled a bunch,” Phelps said. “For me, Shark Week has been a partial of my life for a final 15 years or so, and being means to get in a H2O with these guys where I’m literally face-to-face with some of a many stately creatures you’ve ever seen, that was a treat. . . . we was literally within a feet of mixed large sharks. That, we know, could be frightful during times, though for me it was a dream come true.”

And then, there’s a principal order of warfare: “To know your Enemy, we contingency turn your Enemy.” By this, we meant that to keep this competition from being a total landslide in preference of a shark, Discovery gave Phelps a small help—in a form of a specifically designed mono-fin. For a uninitiated, a mono-fin is most like a fins we wear to go scuba-diving—except, as a “mono” implies, there’s one fin for both feet. What we’re observant is, Phelps radically had to morph into a merman.

“I knew it was going to be really difficult,” Phelps admits when asked if he could win. “For me, being means to prepared myself how we did and mentally get prepared to get in that H2O with a shark—in open water, in their habitat—I consider that was something that was apparently opposite and severe from what we was used to. . . . I’ve never corroborated down from a challenge.”

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