Many Discovery Channel viewers were upset that Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps raced a simulated great white shark instead of a real shark on a July 23 special (video below).
Phelps plugged the race on "Good Morning America" on July 20 as video from the TV special showed him inside a shark cage. Phelps was asked by the show's co-host Robin Roberts how he raced a great white shark. Phelps was careful not to give away the spoiler:
It was challenging. They're very fast. They're very big. It's honestly like they can make a move in any direction, any given time, at speeds at 25 mph. It was challenging. The biggest thing for me is open water. Being in open water is so different than swimming in a swimming pool ... The race, the water was a little bit colder. It was like 53 degrees, like an ice tank.
Tristan Guttridge, an ecologist, made the announcement on the Discovery Channel: "Clearly, we can't put Michael in one lane and a white shark on the far lane. We’re gonna have to do a simulation," notes the Washington Post.
The hour-long TV special, "Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White," featured Guttridge and his team collecting data about the speed of great white sharks.
Guttridge told viewers that the collected data would be used to manufacture a computer-generated image of a great white shark, which Phelps would race.
The simulated great white shark swam 100 meters in 36.1 seconds, while Phelps swam it in 38.1 seconds while wearing a special wet suit and a monofin.
Earlier in the TV special, Phelps watched the CGI shark swim an Olympic swimming pool at an average speed of 25 mph.
"Honestly, the first thought that went through my head when I saw the shark, there's probably very little chance for me to beat him," Phelps stated.
Discovery Channel viewers shared their outrage on Twitter:
[I] spent 60 minutes of my life watching a build up to michael phelps race a fake computer generated shark. i'm pissed.
Michael Phelps race against a computer generated shark will go down as one of TV's most hyped flops. #gullibleTVviewers.
I honestly feel so robbed that I just watched an hour of a stupid show to see Michael Phelps race a FAKE shark. #fakenews.
[P]helps racing a fake shark is like when ur teacher says there's gonna be a sub but shows up the next day.
Michael Phelps has been hyping up that he's going to race a shark for months now. He did it tonight and it was a damn CGI shark #FakeNews.
My friend was genuinely upset when I told her Phelps' shark was CGI lol.