Can Michael Phelps Beat a Shark?

By in Entertainment on

Michael Phelps is taking his talents into dangerous waters. The Olympic superstar swimmer has graduated from dominating the human race to reportedly preparing to race sharks.

Phelps will take to the water for the Discovery Channel’s famous Shark Week in an effort to out-gun a great white shark in a high-profiled race promotion:

Even crazier than the elite medalist putting his life on the line for a silly race? You can bet on whether he wins.

Phelps vs. Shark Betting Odds

That’s right, top entertainment betting sites like BetOnline are offering Michael Phelps odds, while BetOnline specifically kicks things off with Phelps as a sharp underdog:

  • Michael Phelps to Win (+375)
  • Great White Shark to Win (-550)

It’s unclear exactly how this race is being conducted, how far the human and great fish have to swim or the manner in which the shark is being tempted to even compete with Phelps. All of that could be rather helpful in aiding your betting decision, while the long odds of Phelps coming out on top make him a pretty attractive bet.

The problem here is two-fold. For one, sharks on average are way faster than humans. Secondly, Phelps is an amazing and decorated athlete, but he isn’t even regarded as the best water sprinter in the world. There is a sharp difference between being the best overall performer in your sport and being the best at a very specific style in that sport.

It’s like saying Tom Brady is the best NFL quarterback ever. Sure, he’s won the Super Bowl five times and has amazing numbers. I’ll bite on that argument. But then you suggest he’s also the fastest or the most accurate or he has the strongest arm. We can factually run through all of those notions and reject them soundly.

Phelps is an awesome talent and incredibly accomplished, but this is a silly stunt that can’t possibly end in a human victory, no matter who the human is. The only way that would happen is if Phelps is granted a head start or some unfair advantage.

Can Phelps Actually Win?

The value still lies with picking Michael Phelps to win, but even if this thing is rigged to give him a head start or some other advantage, you’re playing with fire if you’re backing the 28-time gold medal winner.

The shark being debated, if truly a great white shark, is going to be quite massive compared to Phelps and should be a whole lot faster. Incentive for the shark will be key here, as well as focus. But if we’re dealing with a regular great white shark and it’s going anywhere close to full speed, Phelps should be left in it’s dust, err, water trail.

After all, a great white can top out at 40 kilometers per hour. That translates to roughly 25 miles per hour. While a shark’s speed is measured in maximum speed and usually arrives in short bursts, anything remotely close to that would spell doom for Phelps.

A look at human swimming speed reveals the average top speed would be roughly 4.5 miles per hour, while Phelps clocked in at 6 miles per hour in 2010. Research has also shown that high level swimming is extremely capped for humans, so Phelps is at east near the max, if not at it. The 31-year old has the body and experience to come close to that average, but he’s also slowly exiting his prime.

Roll all of that together and put him in the water with a natural resident of the ocean, and well, we may have a problem on our hands. In other words, based on physical ability and speed averages alone, Phelps winning this race won’t be logical. There will have to be some specific set up to allow Phelps a head start or some type of advantage to even make this race competitive.

Then again, knowing a top end speed for any species doesn’t necessarily mean it will actually get there. In a race between man and shark, it’s not impossible for one of the greatest swimmers to ever hit the water give the shark a run for it’s money. We just wouldn’t necessarily bet on it.

Because of that, barring any unforeseen advantages that favor Phelps, we’re rolling with the shark in this bet.

Pick: Shark (-550)
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