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Michael Phelps Defends Simulated Shark Week Race: It’s ‘Not My Fault’ People Didn’t Listen

He doesn’t care what the haters say! Michael Phelps is defending his Discovery Channel special Phelps vs Shark after some fans were disappointed that he swam against a CGI great white shark instead of a real one due to safety concerns and logistics.

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The Olympian, 32, took to Facebook Live on Tuesday, July 25, to address criticism of the Shark Week special, in which he competed against the shark in a 100-meter time trial and lost by two seconds. “Everybody wants to try to pick on something or say something or complain about something. I had fun racing a shark and seeing those animals up-close and personal,” he said. “If someone actually wants to get in the ocean and race a side-by-side with a great white, go ahead — you aren’t going to get the shark to swim in a straight line — and it would be interesting to see. We’ll leave it at that.”

Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps attends ‘Spotlight On Swimming’ presented by Omega House in London, England.

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He later added that he was upfront about the fact that he wasn’t going to be side-by-side with the shark. “You can believe whatever you want. Everything was either presented on-air during multiple interviews that I did throughout Shark Week or the beginning of the show,” he said. “Sorry you feel that way. For me, this is something I’ve always wanted to do and I was honored to be able to do it. I’m sorry that you feel that way, I feel very different.”

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Phelps emphasized that he made the scenario clear ahead of the race. “Some people just decide not to listen to some of the things that we do and that’s not my fault that you don’t do that,” he continued. “It’s pretty easy to open up your ears and listen to either what the TV is saying, what announcers are saying or what I’m saying in interviews.

Discovery Channel previously issued a statement insisting that the promotions showed Phelps would be separate from the shark. “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 network said in a statement to Us Weekly. “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.”

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