On Sunday, The Discovery Channel aired a special where the Olympic swimmer tried to beat the speed of a great white in a 100-meter time trial. Many viewers were left disappointed after it was revealed that he raced a digitally added CGI shark due to safety concerns. Following the criticism, Phelps took to Facebook Live on Tuesday to defend the special.
"For those of you who are disappointed, I'm sorry for that," Phelps expressed. "But I absolutely had one of the most exciting two weeks of my life being able to dive with these animals, and see these animals up-close and personal, and really, just honestly learning more about them. This is one of the coolest, fun weeks of the year for me. Being able to watch Shark Week and just seeing everything about them."
The swimmer, who is huge shark fan, continued to share exciting moments from his experience, saying that it "was a dream come true." When a fan made a comment about people complaining about the special, Phelps responded, "Everybody wants to try to pick on something or say something or complain about something. I had fun racing a shark and seeing those animals up-close and personal. If someone actually wants to get in the ocean and race a great white, go ahead -- you aren’t going to get the shark to swim in a straight line -- and it would be interesting to see."
Phelps continued to defend the television event, telling another viewer, "You can believe whatever you want. Everything was either presented on-air during multiple interviews that I did throughout Shark Week or the beginning of the show. Sorry you feel that way. I was honored to be able to do it. I'm sorry that you feel that way, I feel very different."
He also mentioned that everything was disclosed to viewers up front and that some people decided not to listen to what they were told. Adding that it was not his fault that people didn't listen, Phelps explained that it wasn't a fake shark, it was a real shark that they had someone make swim in a straight line.
As far as all the nasty tweets he received, the gold medalist insisted that he "doesn't pay attention to them," he pays attention to people who are supportive, adding that he "just let's things go in one ear and out the other."
"There are so many people out there who try to hide behind a computer screen and talk trash," he said. "I think it's sad… I live my life how I want."
For more on the Phelps vs. Shark backlash, watch below.