It was hyped up to be the race of a lifetime. Viewers were told they would see the 28-time Olympic medalist swimmer Michael Phelps go head-to-head with a great white shark on Sunday, in a race to kick off the annual summer special "Shark Week." Discovery Channel called the event "Phelps vs. Shark: The Battle for Ocean Supremacy" — but it wasn't nearly as cool as it sounded.
Off the coast of South Africa in 56-degree waters, the greatest swimmer of all time went up against a computer-generated great white shark in a 100 meter race. "Before Sunday's broadcast, Discovery had the 28-time Olympic medallist, who is now retired, and the shark swim the course separately," the BBC noted. "Computer-generated footage of a shark was then superimposed over the swimmer to look like they were racing alongside each other."
Phelps wore a "a 1-millimeter wetsuit and a specially designed mono-fin" and the time for him to beat was 36.1 seconds, according to the Washington Post.
The "race" was close in the beginning, but the great white pulled away and the retired legendary olympian fell short with a time of 38.1 seconds. Phelps' speed peaked at about 5-6 miles per hour — but a great white can hit a ridiculous speed of 25 miles per hour in short bursts, according to the BBC.
The viewers, of course, took their grievances to Twitter and admitted that they had expected more. They hoped Phelps was actually going to race a real great white shark in real-time. If the event produced any entertainment, it was the hilarious GIFs, and unforgettable tweets that surrounded the so-called race.
Phelps may not have been able to get the job done this time, but the most decorated olympian of all time may want another shot at ocean supremacy.