Swimmer Michael Phelps Ends His Retirement

May 24, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1.  meet /mit/ (n.) – an event in which athletes gather to compete
Example: He first competed in meets to prepare himself for the Olympic Games.

2. unprecedented /ʌnˈprɛshttp://static.sfdict.com/dictstatic/dictionary/graphics/luna/thinsp.pngɪˌdɛnhttp://static.sfdict.com/dictstatic/dictionary/graphics/luna/thinsp.pngtɪd/ (adj.) – referring to something that is done for the first time ever
Example: The runner is almost as fast as a lion; his speed is unprecedented.

3. winning streak /ˈwɪnhttp://static.sfdict.com/dictstatic/dictionary/graphics/luna/thinsp.pngɪŋ strik/ (n.) – a succession of wins or victories of a player or a team
Example: The more she maintained her winning streak, the more she feared to lose.

4. for the fun of it /fɔr ðə fʌn ʌv ɪt/ (idiom) – to do something solely because it is fun
Example: The team members meet up every Sunday to play basketball just for the fun of it.

5. relay race /riˈleɪ reɪs/ (n.) – a competition in which each member of a team has to take a turn in order to finish the race
Example: They lost the relay race because their teammate got injured


Read the text below.
Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps [felps], 28, recently ended his retirement to participate at a swimming meet held in Mesa, Arizona last April 24 to 26.

It was his first competition after two years of being retired. He may also compete at the Rio de Janeiro [REE-oh dey zhuh-NAIR-oh] Olympics in 2016.

Phelps is one of the most celebrated athletes because of his unprecedented number of victories in the previous Olympic Games. During the 2004 and 2012 Olympics, Phelps had a winning streak that earned him 18 gold medals, two silver medals and two bronze medals.

According to Phelps’ coach, Bob Bowman [BOH-muh n], the swimmer is working hard to get back into shape after being untrained for two years. Though Phelps is nowhere near his best condition, the swimmer is surely fit to race with confidence after going back to training nine months ago. 

In the Mesa meet, Phelps competed in three swimming events. He swam in an additional event just for the fun of it. This shows that Phelps’ decision to compete again is more for pleasure rather than serious competitiveness.

Aside from the 2016 Olympics, Phelps might also be joining other competitions in the near future. He has qualified to participate in the US National Championships, which will determine the teams who will compete for the 2015 world championships.

Despite Phelps’ enthusiasm to compete again, he has decided to limit himself in short competitions and relay races at the moment. He has long declared that he will end his swimming career by the age of 30.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Why do you think Michael Phelps wants to end his swimming career by the age of 30?
·         What would you prefer, compete for pleasure or for competitiveness?

Discussion B

·         Do you think athletes should retire at an early age? Please explain your answer.
·         Do you think playing professional sports is a good career? Please explain your answer.


May 24, 2014