Michael Phelps Vs. Goldfish: Who is Faster?

With his epic 8 Olympic golds, Michael Phelps is definitely one of the fastest swimmers in the world. But just how fast do you think he swims? And how does Phelps stack up to the world's fastest fish? Neatorama investigates:

Though it's hard to measure the swimming speed of large fish in the wild, most sources believe that the fastest fish is the Indo-Pacific Sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus), that has been clocked in excess of 68 mph (110 km/h). Over short periods, they could swim even faster really, really fast. In a series of speed trials at the Long Key Fishing Camp in Florida, one sailfish took out 300 feet of fishing line in just 3 seconds! (Source: Australian Museum Fish Site).

Okay, so that's a little unfair. Let's try something slower.

A lot more research has been done on goldfish. According to Davison & Goldspink, a goldfish can be trained to swim at about 0.86 mph (1.38 km/h) Source: J. exp. Biol (1978) 74: 115-122.

For Michael Phelps, let's take his 100 m butterfly: 50.77 seconds for 100 m. That's a puny 4.4 mph (7.1 km/h) - about the speed of a brisk walk, actually, but still faster than a goldfish.

But wait a minute, you say, that's not fair since we failed to normalize the swim speed as compared to body length (Phelps, for one, is much much longer than a goldfish). No problem, it's easy enough to convert.An average goldfish is 8.5 cm, so its swim speed translates to about 4.5 Phelps is 6'4" (1.93 m) so this translates to about 1 body length/sec.

Here's the final comparison:

Absolute Speed
0.85 mph
(1.37 km/h)
4.4 mph
(7.1 km/h)
68 mph
(110 km/h)
Body Length sec

So. There you have it. Michael Phelps. Slower than a goldfish.

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Newest 5 Comments

Thats really a good comparison. Also Do watch Nice Pictures of Michael Phelps and top 10 reason behind his swimming power...


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