In one of the wilder sports headlines you’ll ever read, it was announced on Friday that Michael Phelps will be racing a great white shark as part of Shark Week. That’s right, a SHARK. I have so, so many questions. Why? How? Who — as in, which shark will Phelps be racing against? Most importantly, I’m really curious if Michael Phelps has ever seen a movie about sharks. Given that he grew up swimming, the answer seems like it would be an obvious “yes.” But now I really don’t know. Having watched the classics, I have no interest being anywhere near sharks, much less competing against them.
The announcement of this race sounds like the beginning of a shark-horror movie. And not a very good one. It’s probably one that gets pitched around a little, but the studios don’t bite, and it gets made for the SyFy Network. Imagine this pitch:
OK, so picture this. An elite swimmer. No, not just an elite swimmer. The greatest swimmer of ALL TIME challenges a great white shark to a race. Then, in the middle of the race, the shark goes crazy and–
Now, hold on a minute. Racing a shark? That sounds pretty crazy, doesn’t it? Who would believe that would ever happen?
It’s absolutely ludicrous that a human being will be racing a shark. Will I watch? Yes. But I would feel wrong without first giving Michael Phelps some movies to check out before hopping in the pool. In no particular order:
- Deep Blue Sea
- Jaws 2
- The Shallows
- 47 Meters Down (in theaters now!)
- Piranha 3D
- Step Brothers
- All of the Sharknados
- The Air Jaws Octalogy (who knew that was a word?)
- Jaws: The Revenge**
**please note that we are leaving out Jaws 3-D, as it is unrelated to all events on Amity Island.
Of course, I’ll be rooting for Michael Phelps. He’s never been this big of an underdog. He can swim about 6 miles per hour; great white sharks top out at about 25 mph. And they can do stuff like this:
OK, so that last one wasn’t real. But this is still absurd. Sure, the format hasn’t been announced yet. I don’t think they’d make it an open water swim, though I guess you never really know. There’s also the very real chance that Ryan Lochte, currently suspended from competition, will dress up in a shark costume and race his old buddy. I know I’ll be tuning in on July 23rd, I just hope Phelps breaks out the DVD player before then.