Michael Phelps isn’t letting retirement stop him from seeking out some fun, with the American swimming legend standing by his good-natured challenge to race Conor McGregor in the pool.
Coming on the heels of McGregor’s blockbuster bout with Floyd Mayweather in which he swapped the Octagon for a boxing ring, Phelps tweeted out a picture of him and the MMA star in a swimming cap with a challenge to race.
The tweet, posted by Phelps on August 29, has been retweeted nearly 55,000 times and has almost 128,000 likes.
“Everybody kept tweeting and retweeting that photo that I tweeted of him and I across from each other,” Phelps said in Dubai ahead of the launch of an Under Armour store at Dubai Mall on Monday. “I said it as a joke. If he wants to swim, great, I don’t care. I’ll race him.
“I would definitely exercise the option to have a conversation if he wants to swim.”
It may have started out as a joke, but when asked if he could beat McGregor in the 100 metres despite giving up a 50m head start, Phelps actually broke down his chances.
“If we did it in a year, and I trained for a year to do it, or even six months, I could probably go 48 seconds if I had to,” he said. “I don’t see him breaking a minute. So I think I could probably beat him if he had a 50m head start.”
Phelps, of course, has proven he’s up for out-of-the-box challenges, both in and out of the pool.
Just two months ago, he lost a race to a computer-generated shark, and in 2009 he swam against basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal.
Phelps is also a regular on the golf course, where he’s played rounds with fellow Under Armour athlete Jordan Spieth.
“I think it’s cool. It shows just how hard it is to do other sports,” Phelps said.
“It’s cool to see athletes challenging other athletes in different sports.”