Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time with 28 medals, including 23 golds, and is undoubtedly one of the best swimmers in history. Given how much he’s accomplished, it’s natural to wonder how far his abilities can go. Can he swim 100 miles from the middle of the ocean to the shore?
This question was asked by rapper Young Thug while incarcerated at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta. he was reportedly charged in the “large-scale” RICO case. and awaiting judgment on a random summer day, and even Phelps thinks it’s worth diving into.
Undoubtedly, Phelps is a fast swimmer. When he broke the world record in the 100m butterfly at the 2009 World Championships, he clocked an impressive speed of just over 5.5 mph. However, 100 meters (about 0.06 miles) is a much shorter distance than 100 miles.
Technically, this won’t be Phelps’ first ocean test. In 2017, he was featured at Shark Week in an experiment to see how his speed compares to that of a shark. Phelps was dressed in a great white shark skin suit and a special fin that helped increase his speed and level the field a bit.
Of course Phelps is no faster than a great white sharkbut he is still a very fast person. Speed, of course, can help, but that’s not all he needs for a 100-mile journey – stamina is crucial. Luckily for him, there is a whole area of challenge in swimming like the one Young Thug offers.
Marathon swimmers cover a distance in open water of at least 10 kilometers, which is equivalent to 6.21 miles. They are allowed a bathing suit, swimming cap, ear plugs and nose plugs, goggles, skin lubricant, food and an escort boat for safety.
Since this imaginary scenario (at least for now) is a serious matter, Phelps spoke to his longtime trainer Bob Bowman about how long the challenge could take. Came up with somewhere around 50 hours, although Phelps thinks it would be “unpleasant”. Based on Phelps’ skill level and the experience of other swimmers, this number is a pretty reasonable guess.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, the Spanish swimmer Pablo Fernandez broke the record for the longest swim in the ocean July 19-20, 2021, covering a distance of 155.34 miles in 26 hours 36 minutes and 18 seconds. Fernandez did not use fins or hand paddles, but he was strategic and used the fast current of the Gulf Stream. His experience, combined with good water and weather conditions, was the perfect formula for success.
This is reported by the National Oceanic Service NOAA.The Gulf Stream is the fastest surface current and can reach a top speed of around 5.6 mph, slightly faster than Phelps’ 2009 100m butterfly record. This route can get Phelps to complete the task in less than 50 hours, but ocean conditions must be ideal.
Phelps could also gain confidence by looking at someone with a similar past. On June 30, 2021, former Olympic 400m swimmer Neil Agius completed the 126.3 km (about 78.48 miles) journey from Italy to Malta in over 52 hours. It was longest unassisted and uninterrupted neutral current swim in history. Agius competed in the 2004 Athens Olympics and placed 46th in the 400m freestyle. Phelps did not compete in this particular race, but left Athens with six golds and two bronzes.
There’s technically no reason why Phelps couldn’t try the 100-mile run, but no matter how he chooses to approach it, it’s going to take a lot of practice. According to marathon swimmer Melody Nugent, it will take at least several months to prepare.
“When preparing for a marathon swim, you must swim the distance of this competition a week, at least a few months before the actual event,” she wrote in an explanation on how to become a marathon runner.
It may seem like a daunting task for the average person, but Phelps is no stranger to intense workouts. It is reported that when he competed, trained almost six hours a day, 365 days a year.
At this point, it appears that Phelps has no real plans to take on Young Thug’s challenge. But if Phelps does decide to go for it, it might be worth starting training right now – and maybe borrowing a Shark Week suit and fins for an extra edge.