Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps will race a great white for Shark Week

Michael Phelps will be racing a shark in this year's Shark Week on Discovery. Keystone Press

With 23 Olympic gold medals under his belt, U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps is no slouch when it comes to swimming at great speeds— but can he swim faster than a Great White shark?

That’s what TV viewers will find out during this year’s Shark Week when the Discovery channel unveils its annual shark-themed week of programming, with Phelps and an as-yet-identified finned friend to face off in a new special, “Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White”.

In its announcement, Discovery hypes the sure-to-be-epic swim meet. “They are one of the fastest and most efficient predators on the planet: Sharks. He is our greatest champion to ever get in the water: Michael Phelps. 39 world records. 23 Olympic golds. But he has one competition left to win. An event so monumental no one has ever attempted it before,” notes the Discovery release, adding: “The world’s most decorated athlete takes on the ocean’s most efficient predator: Phelps v. Shark – the race is on!”

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As The Hollywood Reporter points out, Phelps will have his work cut out for him: “For those wondering, Great Whites clock in at an impressive 25 mph in open water while Phelps, one of the most elite athletes on the planet, averages between 5.25-6 mph.”

We’ll find out how the most decorated athlete in Olympic history will fare against the fearsome ocean predator during Shark Week, which airs from July 23-30.

In the meantime, Phelps has apparently been preparing with some shark-related training, including taking an underwater dive among some Great Whites from within a shark cage:

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