Michael Phelps Swims with Sharks in South Africa, and Lands in Hot Water

Olympic legend Michael Phelps has ticked off a bucket list item by swimming with sharks in South Africa. Unfortunately though, his attempt to raise awareness about the species backfired this week when some viewers of a Discovery programme felt duped by his much-hyped race against a Great White.

While Michael did indeed get to go cage shark diving in South Africa – experiencing close encounters with Great Whites for the first time in his life – the race itself was against a simulated shark.

Michael’s episode launched the annual Shark Week series on Discovery. With the 32-year-old retired swimmer entering the water, it brought a new audience that may otherwise not have been interested in saving sharks.

But the audience was fussy. They believed Discovery when it promoted the show as “Phelps vs Shark: Great Gold vs Great White”… and perhaps demonstrating just how much they do need to learn about sharks, they honestly believed the world’s fastest and most efficient predator would swim in a straight line next to their human 23-time gold medallist champion!!

To be fair, Discovery’s campaign was ambiguous with lines like: “A Shark Week first brings an event so monumental, no one has ever attempted it before. Phelps vs Shark – the race is on!”

After some viewers raged on social media, Michael took to Facebook where he said in a live video that everything was presented on-air during multiple interviews before the show.

“Sorry you feel that way. For me, this is something I’ve always wanted to do and I was honoured to be able to do it,” said Michael.

He also said: “Everybody wants to try to pick on something or say something or complain about something… I had fun racing a shark and seeing those animals up close and personal.

“If somebody actually wants to get in the water and race side by side with a great white, go ahead. You’re not going to get the shark to swim in a straight line.”

One fan pointed out that cage swimming with Great Whites was always on Michael’s bucket list, and said: “The episode was fascinating, educational, and entertaining. Take the time to understand the true meaning behind his participation. For the millions of fans who admire Michael, this was amazing. Who better than the greatest Olympian of All Time to help us learn about Sharks and seeing the science behind it. Come on!!”

Although the programme landed him in hot water, Michael is keen for a rematch, but “next time… warmer water!”

Video: Michael Phelps’ Close Encounter with Sharks in South Africa

Michael Phelps responds to criticism of his race against a simulated shark

Posted by Michael Phelps on Tuesday, July 25, 2017