Phelps vs. shark? Audiences take the bait, and regret it


Lee Jin-man/ AP United States’ Michael Phelps motivates his teammates in the final of the guys’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay throughout the swimming competitors at the 2016 Summertime Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017|1 a.m.

For almost 30 years, Shark Week has actually been a reliable way for the Discovery Channel to develop buzz for itself once a year. The public’s appetite for shark-based shows seems endless. And this year, the channel outdid itself.

The centerpiece was a match race in between Michael Phelps and a fantastic white shark.

Who would win? Would the shark stay in its lane, or head over to take a bite of the 23-time Olympic gold medalist? “Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White” appeared to assure to address those concerns.

However when the race was broadcast Sunday night, the high hopes relied on dissatisfaction. The program appeared about as practical as a sharknado.

To begin with, it wasn’t exactly a race. Phelps swam alone, time trial design, in the waters off South Africa.

It likewise wasn’t exactly a shark. When the “race” was revealed, Phelps was matched with a computer-generated image of a shark, supposedly imitating a real shark’s speed. The “shark” even leapt out of the water at the finish line for a conveniently spectacular visual.

The show also faced the issue that sharks and individuals are not equivalent swimmers. Not even close. People, even superhumans like Phelps, swim no faster than 6 miles per hour. Terrific white sharks struck 25 mph. Phelps was offered a monofin, which let him swim faster than his world-record times.

But he still wasn’t going to come anywhere near the shark’s leading speed. This certainly appeared like a stumbling block for an interspecies race.

Earlier in the program, researchers enticed a shark with a fake seal to time its speed over 100 meters in a straight line. Easily, the time they created was in the range of Phelps’ speed.

“I believe we did our best to attempt to make it as close as we could,” Phelps acknowledged to Home entertainment Weekly.

When it comes to the race format, it is unclear if people anticipated to in fact see a fantastic white in the next lane over in an Olympic-size pool. However whatever they wanted, they didn’t get it. The program left individuals feeling cheated, at least the noisiest ones on social networks.

“The whole point is to obtain individuals excited about sharks,” stated Laurie Goldberg, a spokesperson for the Discovery Channel. “The idea was, is it possible to get the world’s greatest swimmer competitive with a shark?”

When it comes to the shark’s speed, she said, “They are really good in bursts, however they don’t necessarily have endurance over a 100-meter race.”

And for those audiences who desired closer contact in between guy and monster? “We’re not going to risk Michael Phelps’ life.”

She included: “In the first two minutes of the program, we make it clear we were not going to make it side by side.”

Oh, the result? The shark “won” by 2 seconds. And Phelps demanded a rematch. Of course.

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