Phelps, who broke Spitz's record by winning eight gold medals at the Beijing Games, said he jumped at the chance to take part in Shaquille O'Neal's new reality TV show "Shaq Vs.," in which the 15-time All-Star center will challenge top athletes in their respective sports.
During one episode in the show, which debuts on Aug. 18 on ABC, Shaq will swim against Phelps. O'Neal gets to negotiate a handicap with his opponents and train with a coach for one week leading up to each challenge.
"We haven't really decided on anything final yet — how far, how long, how big a head start I will have to give him,'" Phelps said before the world championships, which begin Sunday. "To be able to swim with a 7-foot-2, 300-pound man will be absolutely awesome. When I was asked to do it, I quickly said, 'Yes.'"
Phelps' coach Bob Bowman said he'll be "coaching Shaq up a little bit."
"We're sewing together three suits and wrapping him up in it," Bowman quipped.