Discovery Communications has long popularized an annual tradition for loyal viewers of their flagship TV property Discovery Channel: the Shark Week summer documentary specials. This year the world’s most famous sea predators will be returning to Discovery in July, and they will be teaming up as before with certain celebrity guests. One of these celebrities, in particular, is going to undertake a genuinely extreme challenge against the Great White sharks in particular. No, it won’t be a survival match, but man and killer fish will be competing in a race.

And only one man today could give a shark a swim for its money: none other than Olympian superstar Michael Phelps.

Man versus beast

Discovery’s eight-day Shark Week marathon of near every shark-related documentary programming imaginable will begin on July 23. To kick things off retired American Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps is indeed going head to head with a Great White shark in a swimming contest for a one-off special presentation, plainly titled "Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White". A Discovery Channel news release describes the event thus: "An event so monumental no one has ever attempted it before. The world's most decorated athlete takes on the ocean's most efficient predator: Phelps V Shark -- the race is on!"

Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is celebrating its 29th anniversary this year, and to celebrate this near-milestone the special shark documentary marathon will air on the exact same week on all Discovery Channel versions across over 220 countries and territories in the world.

Viewing fare for these eight days include shark-fests such as "Great White Shark Serial Killer Lives," "Shark Vortex" and "Alien Sharks: Stranger Fins." Phelps will also be appearing in a second, less adrenaline-pumping special called "Shark School with Michael Phelps," where he will go to the Bimini Shark labs in the Bahamas to learn more about these great predators of the deep.

Unbeatable combination

Michael Phelps has long been considered an exceptional man among men in the field of sports. His career achievements in swimming are phenomenal, having won 23 Olympic Gold Medals and setting 39 World Records. He was a member of the US swimming team in no less than five Olympiads since 2000. Despite retiring from competitive swimming after his last hurrah at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, his personal records remain strong.

It seems only natural that he would now be pitted by Discovery Channel against the similarly fast-swimming sharks of the ocean in a contest of speed.

Discovery has come a long way from its initial fare of television documentaries, having over the decades expanded its programming to pseudo-science entertainment and even reality shows like “Alaskan Bush People,” which has run six seasons. Shark Week has been one of its most successful annuals specials, despite accusations of inaccuracies from the some shark scientists.