Michael Phelps has reiterated his challenge to Conor McGregor to a race in the pool – saying he would be confident of winning a 100m freestyle race even if he gave the Irishman a 50m head start.
The American swimming great posted a picture on his Twitter account last month, pitting himself next to a mocked-up image of McGregor, the mixed-martial arts fighter, wearing a swimming hat.
Following soon after the “Money Fight”, when McGregor swapped the MMA octagon for a boxing ring to fight Floyd Mayweather, Phelps’ post was retweeted over 55,000 times.
Phelps acknowledged the challenge was in jest – but said he would be happy to race.
“Everyone kept tweeting and retweeting this photo that I tweeted of him and I across from each other,” Phelps said. “I said it as a joke. If he wants to swim, I don’t care. I’ll race him.
“If we did it in a year, and I trained for a year, or even six months, I could probably go 48 seconds if I had to. I don’t see him breaking a minute. So I could probably beat him with a 50 metre head start.
“I would definitely exercise the option to have a conversation if he wants to swim.”
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Phelps enjoys seeing athletes cross codes to challenge themselves. He has taken to the fairways against the world No 2 golfer Jordan Spieth in the past.
“He’s a plus 6, I’m a nine [handicap], and he is still killing me,” said Phelps, who is in Dubai for the opening of the Under Armour store in Dubai Mall.
Although he says he would step into a boxing ring, he is cool on his chances.
“It shows how hard it is to do other sports,” he said. “That fight between [McGregor] and Floyd was great.
“I knew it would be very hard for him to win, because Floyd is Floyd. That guy is pretty damn good – plus it is another sport.”
Phelps is no stranger to quirky challenges in the pool. In July, he lost a race to a computer generated shark, and in 2009 he raced the basketball player Shaquille O’Neal.
Phelps had to swim a 200m individual medley, while O’Neal swam the final leg of a relay with three members of the Unites States’ female team. And Phelps had an additional handicap.
“When I raced Shaq, I had a broken foot, I had just been in a car accident and broke my right foot, so I couldn’t straighten my foot,” Phelps said.
“But Shaq, obviously, is massive.”