Although, watching it again, Paulie does have a good point about the principle of specificity. These races also have zero chance of happening, which is good because, like Phelps versus the "shark", they would not be entertaining.
So here are a few suggestions for races that we're not likely to get for any number of reasons, but that I'd actually love to see:
Thorpe vs Sarah Sjöström in a 100 free
Think Billy Jean King versus Bobby Riggs except Thorpe is closer to his prime and without the rampant sexism. I think a short course race would be best, if only because it might be easier for Thorpe to get back in shape for it. You might say a 50 would be better but Thorpe was never good for a 50 and I think Sjöström at her current peak would demolish him in such a short race.
Tim Duncan vs Kris Humphries in a 50 free
If I had an unlimited money pit, I would be using it to sponsor Tim Duncan to compete in masters swimming now that he's retired from basketball. For those that don't know, early in Duncan's basketball career it was always mentioned how he was a "swimming champion" in the Virgin Islands before a hurricane destroyed his pool and forced him to play basketball.
Only the swim nerd himself has thrown a little bit of water on the theory that Tim Duncan was some kind of age group stud.
Meanwhile, Kris Humphries is not half the NBA player Duncan was, but he was actually an age group stud, going 27.7 in the 50 free (LCM) as a TEN YEAR OLD.
Now tell me it wouldn't be fun to watch two guys north of 6'10 with some swimming in their background go head to head in a 50 free.
Caeleb Dressel vs Shark
I'm stealing this one from my friend Garrett McCaffrey, who aptly pointed out the biggest problem with Phelps vs Shark: we had the wrong guy in the race. Looking back at the race film, the shark did not win by much. What kind of shape was Phelps in?
Does it even matter? Dressel proved this summer that he can get it done in any kind of race. He's got the underwaters. He could easily make up the two second deficit that Phelps had to that great white.
Dara Torres vs Katie Ledecky in a 25 free
Katie Ledecky is making her case for greatest swimmer of all time. She is young. Although she is getting more raw speed, the foundation of her swimming is crazy speed endurance.
Dara Torres is still only 50 years old and only five years off from a credible Olympic bid in the 50 free.
Although you might think that the short distance would give Torres some advantage, neither swimmer is or was particularly strong off the blocks. So this would be a knock down, drag out fight for 25 yards.
Now I just have to figure out how to make that unlimited money pit so we can get this show on the road.