The Discovery Channel special, called “Phelps vs. Shark,” aired Sunday for the premiere of its annual Shark Week, happening now through Aug. 8. Fans of both the 28-time Olympic gold medalist and sharks were glued to their TVs, waiting to see the main event: Phelps going up against a Great White Shark.
The special included the Olympic golden boy’s stunned reaction to a simulation of a speedy shark besting Olympic swimmers. The GIF of his facial expression alone deserves to rule the Internet.
The catch? Phelps was racing computerized sharks, including the preliminary 50-meter races against a reef and hammerhead shark. (He lost that second one.) The CGI simulations were created from real data on sharks. And even though Phelps and scientist Tristan Gutteridge stressed beforehand that the Olympian would not be competing with actual sharks in open water, some online were disappointed to learn the finned adversaries were digitally rendered.
One user was more upset that Phelps wasn’t competing with a mako shark.
Despite a custom wet suit and a helpful single fin to keep his feet locked together, Phelps was two seconds slower than the computer-simulated Great White: 36.1 to 38.1, respectively.
Still, it’s an admirable time and both Twitter users and Phelps are ready for a rematch.
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