First a Shark, Now McGregor? Phelps Tweets About Racing the UFC Champ

In one of those “is it April Fools Day?” moments, Michael Phelps tweeted earlier today, playfully (or not?) suggesting that he and UFC Lightweight Champion Conor McGregor take it to the pool and race. Phelps didn’t actually mention a pool, or water of any kind, though he did photoshop a cap and goggles onto a photo of McGregor.

Both Phelps and McGregor have been in primetime this summer, with Phelps having raced a (hologram) shark and losing (sad) during Shark Week and McGregor taking on boxer Floyd Mayweather in a professional boxing match and losing (expected).

Not surprisingly, Phelps’s taunting set Twitter ablaze, and the tweet itself has accrued more than 25,000 RT’s and 60,000 favorites as of this post’s publication (11:40pm central time).

This wasn’t the only story that has put Phelps in headlines, as he and his wife Nicole Johnson today announced that Johnson is pregnant with baby number 2.

Phelps has already raced a celebrity before, as he and former NBA player Shaquille O’Neal had a televised race on O’Neal’s show “Shaq Vs” in 2009. Phelps actually taunted O’Neal about racing him again earlier this month:

Don’t go screaming “Phelps 2020!” though, as he has another child on the way and there’s no indication that he’s ever returning to the sport of swimming competitively again, but we could see him racing some public figures in the future. After all, he has something to prove after losing to a (hologram) shark.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

7 Comment threads
24 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
18 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted

Nah, not swimming again. Take him on in the Octagon, Phelps.


How about a MMA fight in a caged pool the size and shape of a UFC octagon?


Congratulations. You’ve invented water polo.


Lol, once he races, he’ll come out of retirement

crooked donald

Move on from the gimmicks. Start coaching.

Harry Dresden

Lol. I love Phelps and always have but he would make a terrible coach

crooked donald

What else is he going to do then?

Harry Dresden

Blow money and bang his model wife while reflecting on the fact that he’s the greatest swimmer of all time? Sounds like an awesome life to me.


Until he ends up as a greeter at some club when he’s 60. Love the foresight, the contributions, and the giving back. SMH.


He’ll be fine. His marketability will live on as long as he holds the records for most golds in an Olympic games and overall. I can tell you that coaching salary isn’t going to prevent him from being a greeter.


Agreed. Athletes with that level of natural talent in their sport rarely get anywhere near the same level of coaching ability. They tend to have trouble relating things to kids for whom it isn’t just going to click. Sergio is a notable exception. Pablo is doing okay, but Nebraska isn’t exactly a power player.

Phelps does seem like a pretty analytical guy with decent communication skills, so maybe he’s able to break down techniques and movements well for swimmers, but there’s also a good chance that he gets frustrated because swimmers don’t get things that seem very intuitive to him.

crooked donald

I wouldn’t say “rarely,” because few have actually tried it as a legit career. There are several world’s best or Olympic medalists (or in Demont’s case, should’ve been) who are/have been pretty brilliant coaches — if not legends: George Breen, Jim Councilman, Jack Nelson, Buddy Baarcke, Mitch Ivey (with an asterisk), Anthony Nesty, Sergio (as you mentioned), The Rocket, Tom Jager, Matt Vogel, Gary Hall, Sr., Mike Bottom, Jeremy Linn, and now Aaron Peirsol and Brendan Hansen. Larry Bird, Larry Brown, Doug Collins all were great basketball coaches. Plenty of examples in track and field, hockey, gymnastics, diving.


I’m not talking about former top swimmers who just make a living coaching. That’s a list of swimmers who have coached, yes, but how many of them have made serious contributions to the field of coaching that are anywhere near their accomplishments in swimming? The easy targets from your list would be Peirsol and Hansen, as I’m sure they’re good coaches but I think it’s too early to really tell what impact they’ve made. I didn’t realize Mike Bottom qualified for the 1980 Olympics, that’s very cool and I’ll admit he’s definitely one of the greats. Rick Demont too. I’m glad to hear that Tom Jager has a head coaching gig, but being a coach at a school that got… Read more »


exactly my thoughts . well done

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

Read More »

Want to take your swimfandom to the next level?

Subscribe to SwimSwam Magazine!