Michael Phelps Loses to Great White Shark

Photo Courtesy: YouTube

Michael Phelps swore he would not come back to competitive swimming after the 2016 Olympics. Tonight, he came back out of retirement for one more race. He wasn’t racing in Budapest at the World Championships. He wasn’t at a club meet out in Arizona. He wasn’t racing the 200 IM at Speedo Sectionals.

Nope. He was racing in South Africa against a Great White Shark on the Discovery Channel as part of Shark Week.

Well, actually it was a computer generated avatar, based on speeds measured earlier in the show while the shark was chasing a seal. The shark finished 100 meters of swimming at 36.1 seconds.

Phelps wore a full body wet suit, similar to what Ian Thorpe used to wear in his heyday. The suit was to help Phelps swim in the 56 degree Fahrenheit water, some 24 degrees cooler than normal Olympic pools. Phelps also wore a monofin to mimic the tail of the shark.

Phelps swam the 100m distance underwater, only coming up for a few breaths, and finished in 38.1 seconds to finish second to the shark.

“I don’t like taking silver medals, but I’ll take one to a great white,” said Phelps after the race.

The South African shark had to have revenge on its mind after its countryman Chad Le Clos lost to Phelps last summer in the 200 fly. The race was not FINA approved so the shark’s time will not count as a world record, despite its following of the Lochte rule during the race. However, the shark surfaced after 15 meters so its time may not have counted anyway.

Phelps was not opposed to a rematch, as he tweeted after the race that he wanted to swim in “warmer water” next time.

The rest of the swimming world had some fun on Twitter with the much anticipated race.

The series isn’t over until it’s over.

Maybe we can get some expert analysis?

Could the shark hold off the fastest relay split ever?

Perhaps the shark is going to have to race again?

The shark was not available for comment after the race, as it was busy chasing another meal.

Phelps will star on the final night of Shark Week in “Shark School with Michael Phelps” next Sunday at 8 ET.


  1. Susan L. Lansbury

    No kidding!!!! Those sharks are fueled by human flesh! Haha

  2. Thomas Richner

    Shocked- he would get destroyed by a salmon too.

  3. Lauren Royce

    only by a couple seconds! He said he had fun. Don’t cry guys, he’s obviously not dead

  4. Tracey Pannell

    It was a fake shark so the shark wasn’t even swimming fast

    • Danielle Olivier

      They should have lochte try it since he has the fastest underwater kick. Phelps would come in, gasp!, 3rd…

  5. Donna Lynn Spahn

    So what he’s still the king in the pool, he is a Champ to try don’t see these haters talking negative doing anything in this category. Because it’s the 1% who do – Keep kicking ass Michael Phelps-☆☆☆▪☆

  6. Matt Seadog

    The shark speed was determined by research testing and measurement .

  7. Mickey McNeil

    Home court advantage for Shark! I want to see Dressel race a shark!!

  8. Kylie Youmans

    Ashton Seip Bill Youmans welll imaaagine thaaaat

    • Bill Youmans

      Yes, but how many endorsements does the shark have?

    • Ashton Seip

      I’m pretty sure that shark has never won an Olympic medal either 😉

    • Kylie Youmans

      Ashton Seip Bill Youmans #priorities

  9. Nick Toirkens

    Sarah Frazer forward too ty and stuff 😂😂

  10. Jim Bowser

    Did we really expect a different outcome.

  11. Hannah Nguyen

    Katie Nguyen Melisa Cakir Tracy Nguyen a tragedy 😪

  12. Cal King

    Hannah Dawson Courtney Brown what a suprise

  13. avatar

    Ian Thorpe did not wear a wetsuit. It was a full body suit but it was not made out of wetsuit material. If he had worn an actual wetsuit, his 400 time would have been 3:30.

  14. Jonathan Rutter

    Matthew Coetzee finally you guys won something

  15. Paula Manns

    Devin Kellett Kenyon Kellett

  16. Favi Godfrey

    by 2 seconds!!! considering the shark’s many advantages Phelps did amazing!!!

  17. Gary-Deeann Nolan

    Give Phelps a breathing apparatus so he doesn’t have to come up for breaths and it’s race on!!

  18. Hamza Garib

    Kawas Aga lmao “despite following the lochte rule”

    • Kawas Aga

      Hahahaha this is gold. It comes into effect for the shark every time. I’m quite surprised though, as Phelps went 38.1, which is 10 seconds under world record. You can argue that he was wearing a full techno suit, which would give upto 2 seconds, and a hydro fin, which would give around 7-9 seconds, but then again, he was swimming in water 24 degrees below FINA regulated water, so, he does seem somewhat close to what he was when he left swimming.

  19. Nina Strack

    Julia dang it he lost, but only by like 2 seconds 😂😂😂

    • Nina Strack

      it’s still a ridiculous time though 😶

  20. Sebastian Martinez

    He said he was cold af😂 and he had to breathe lol, I say he lowkey won or maybe the margin would have be less then 2 seconds if u eliminated those 2 factors

  21. Pamela Galpin Meredith

    while it was totally expeted, the were some eductional and interesting facts.. Michael Phelps hates cold water as much as all of us!!!

  22. Crystal Sadler

    Shark should have been DQ’ed for that jump at the end! 😂😂

  23. Martha Wilson

    It was interesting
    Michael has skills

  24. Leena Saoji

    Forget about swimming- one can lose their life to a great white!! Height of stupidity!

  25. Vanessa Brown

    Did anybody check to see if the shark was doping lol. Pee in a bottle sharky.