Olympian Michael Phelps will face off a great white shark as part of the highly anticipated Shark Week 2017.
“Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White” will air July 23 when the winner of 23 Olympic gold medals will take on the shark in a 100-meter, open-water race off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa.
Phelps has been obsessed with sharks, and the Discovery event will see him compete with the predator of the sea that can swim up to 10 times faster than humans.
This will not be Phelps' first encounter with a shark; he had gone swimming with a whale shark in the Maldives after the 2012 Olympics.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly (EW), the 32-year-old swimmer showed his enthusiasm about the project, saying education and curiosity made him go forward with his decision to race a shark.
“I was like, ‘Yeah, sure, why not? Let’s see who would win a race,’” he told EW. “It’s hard for me to race something that has the speed that they have, and how fast they can turn on a dime is something that’s truly incredible, especially with the size of these animals. I got in and did my best, and you guys are going to have to see what the outcome is.”
While talking to TIME, Phelps said: "I’m a massive geek when it comes to sharks. ... Just being able to see a handful of species of sharks out of the over 500 sharks we have in the world — that just really excited me."
After racing a great white shark, Phelps will take up another challenge with "Shark School With Michael Phelps" on July 30, when he will swim up close with a 13-foot hammerhead in the Bahamas.
“I had the opportunity to lie on the ocean floor and have a massive, massive hammerhead swim within a foot of my face,” Phelps said, according to USA Today. “I was so calm during that. I was on a speaker, and there were a couple of expletives that came out my mouth because I was more excited [than worried].”
"After, like, three to five minutes," he recalled, "I came up and said, 'Guys, I'm going out. Just be ready for it, because I don't want to be contained in here. I want to be with them in their habitat.'"
Discovery has promised that Phelps race with sharks will be both "educational and exciting."
"Shark Week was always during major competition," Phelps says, noting how the Discovery event often airs during the year's biggest international meet. "So between (pool) sessions, I was watching stuff about sharks and trying to learn more," he adds. "That’s where my biggest nerdy side comes out, he says, "because I’m so infatuated with water and infatuated with sharks.”
"Phelps vs. Shark: Great Gold vs. Great White" premieres July 23. Watch the first look below.