Nearly Everything You Wanted to Know About Michael Phelps' Shark Race

Left Amos Nachoun  Barcroft USA  Getty Right Carvalho  Brazil

That could help. And the opening night of Discovery's 29th edition of Shark Week featured the 100-meter "race" between the great white and the swimmer considered the greatest of all time in Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs.

Perhaps the most attention-getting entry this year is tonight's "Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs".

A Phelps win was unlikely from the beginning - Great Whites average 25 miles per hour in short bursts while the puny human swims about six miles per hour - he said he was thrown off by the cold water, which, at 56 degrees at the time of the race, was 24 degrees colder than an Olympic pool.

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Alien Sharks - Stranger Fins: (10 p.m. July 24) The search for some of the world's strangest sharks.

The race, or stunt if you'd rather call it that, is part of the Discovery Channel's annual Shark Week festivities.

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Olympic swimming icon Michael Phelps took on his greatest challenge ever in a Shark Week showdown.

African Shark Safari: (9 p.m. July 28) Great Whites are showing up unexpectedly in Madagascar waters. "But for me, it actually gives me more of an appreciation for how fast [sharks] move through the water, especially at their size".

Decked out with his monofin and a wetsuit created to mimic shark skin, Phelps headed out to the ocean to see if he could do the impossible.

But it was not enough as he raced against a virtual shark side-by-side based on separate 50m time trials. The Discovery cable TV network has turned the scares, thrills and chills of the undersea creatures into a global nail-biter and the four shark attack movies with Ian Zeiring and Tara Reid have been box office smash hits - one of which was filmed here at the Stratosphere hotel. Dr. Samuel Gruber and Tristan Guttridge of the Bimini Shark Lab. "I'm gonna have to swim, and act, like a shark", Phelps said ahead of the race, as he was seen swimming what looked like a sideways butterfly stroke. But he didn't beat the shark, either. He fell to the impressive animal by 2.0 seconds.

Fans were hoping to catch a glimpse of Phelps racing alongside a real shark but the constant use of holograms had some fans smelling something fishy.

Unlike most other sharks, great whites are endothermic, or "warm blooded", and thus can survive and swim quickly in cold water, Nosal said.

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