On Sunday night, Michael Phelps was bested in the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week special, Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White.
The 23-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer was never going to race against a real great white shark, but many fans believed he was.
The computer-generated simulation of a shark beat Phelps by two seconds in Sunday’s Phelps vs. Shark, but given an hour of buildup, special wet suits and studies, fans really hoped to see him race a real shark.
During Sunday’s special, viewers heard ecologist Tristan Gutteridge say, “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.”
When Gutteridge revealed the news, and Phelps didn’t race a real great white shark, fans took to Twitter to complain and share what they pictured happening during the race.
Some fans felt “robbed” by the simulation.
Other fans were just disappointed in their time spent watching the special to see a hypothetical race.
Others on Twitter were confused by people thinking Phelps would actually race beside a great white shark.
READ MORE: Michael Phelps ‘death stare’ is now a tattoo
Phelps finished the 100-metre race in 38 seconds, two seconds slower than the simulated shark.
Phelps tweeted Sunday that he’d like a rematch, but in warmer water.
Following the complaints, Discovery released a statement regarding the Phelps special and the use of CGI sharks.
“In PHELPS VS SHARK we enlisted world class scientists to take up the challenge of making the world’s greatest swimmer competitive with a Great White. The show took smart science and technology to make the challenge more accessible and fun. All the promotion, interviews and the program itself made clear that the challenge wasn’t a side by side race. During Michael’s pre-show promotion, as well as within the first 2 minutes of PHELPS VS SHARK, this message was clear and we are thrilled with the audience and the engagement around the world,” Discovery said in a statement.
— With files from the Associated Press