Coach Nick’s 14-Day Challenge: Volume 11

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JUNE 24-JULY 7, 2019

Ready to Swim Faster?

The average swimmer gets average results, and that’s why they’re average. But who wants that? I want far better for you, so I created my 14-Day Challenge – a collection of mental, technical, and physical tasks designed to speed you up so you can kick butt in the pool. I’ve used it with hundreds of PEAK swimmers, and it really works! Over the next 14 days, I’ll give you one primary task to complete each day, and I’ve added a second just in case you’re super ambitious and hunger for more. To obtain the most benefit, you’ll need to give it your all, so that means you can’t ever skip a day. Once the 14 days are up, I’ll send you a new set of tasks, and I’ll continue to do so for the next 11 months! Sounds like fun, huh? It is if you happen to think that swimming fast is fun. You’ll notice that each challenge is repeated a second time in the second week. I did that on purpose because of an all-important training concept called repetition, which means duplicating something that’s good for you to maximize results. My 14-Day Challenge isn’t for the faint of heart – so you’re either in, or you’re out, and if you’re in, let’s begin!

Challenge Menu


How strong is your core? Is it a steel bridge, a bowl of jelly, or somewhere between the two? Whatever your level, you can never have a strong enough core, so today’s challenge is to push it to the max.

Streamline Crunches: Lie face up on the ground in a streamline position with your legs together and straight. Next, curl your upper body into a crunch position with your arms, head, shoulder blades, and upper back off the ground. Hold for 3 seconds and then gently return to the starting position. Repeat until failure and don’t forget to breathe!

Single Leg Bridge: Lie face up on the ground with your legs straight. Next, bend your right leg ninety degrees with your right foot remaining on the ground. Next, raise your hips off the ground using your right leg. A straight line should form from your left ankle to your left shoulder. Next, return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side. Repeat until failure and don’t forget to breathe!

Backstroke Kick: Lie face up on the ground with your legs straight, and your hands tucked below your lower back. Next, raise both legs off the ground approximately 6 inches. Next, kick backstroke with your legs straight, and your toes pointed away from you. Keep kicking until failure and don’t forget to breathe!


When it comes to your swimming, do you have any bad habits? If so, it’s time to kick them to the curb. Are you punctual or do you tend to arrive late to practice? When turning, do you rest on the walls or attack them? Are you a tough trainer or a marshmallow? Whatever bad habits stand in your way, it’s time to push them aside today.


When I was a child, my father would give me a poem on my birthday that depicted my life the year prior. If I got a puppy, fell from a tree, or won a swimming race, it was mentioned in his poem. Each was unique, and I treasure them to this day. A few years back I began to write poetry in his memory. Not at my father’s level mind you, but I do try. One of my favorites is Un-Limit Yourself, and in case you hadn’t guessed already, it’s about swimming. Your challenge is to memorize the first two stanzas this challenge, and I’ll add another two in the next time. Within a month or so, you’ll know my poem by heart.

You have unlimited potential,
Just step through the door.
It may frighten you at first,
But it’s the only way to soar.

You have unlimited potential,
Avoid a mind of doubt.
It may sound rather foolish,
But that’s what it’s all about.


Did you know that the mere act of smiling can improve your mood, outlook, and swimming performance? Unfortunately, few swimmers smile enough to experience the benefits. That’s why today is “smile day,” where you stand in front of a mirror (morning, noon, and night) and smile for two minutes non-stop. It may make your cheeks sore, but you’ll feel happier and swim faster.


The last length of a race is the most important because whoever wins it wins the race! That’s why it’s essential to finish like a pro when training and competing. Take Michael Phelps for example, he won the 100-butterfly by 00.04 seconds in Athens, 00.01 seconds in Beijing, and 00.23 seconds in London. Talk about a close call, but he was a master at finishing. Can you say the same? To be a champion, you must rehearse like a champion in practice, so that’s your challenge today. On your butterfly and freestyle finishes, accelerate into the wall and don’t breath from the flags in. On your backstroke finish, accelerate into the wall and trust in your stroke count. Looking for the wall is a rookie mistake that can turn a winning performance into a losing one. On your breaststroke finish, touch the wall as your feet snap together on your final kick.


If you have a sweet tooth, this might be the toughest challenge of them all. Whenever you feel an urge to sneak a sweetie today, munch on a piece of fruit instead.


Imagine if you had to apply for a position on your swim team. You’d go to the pool, present your resume to your coach, and they would make the final decision. If you were good enough, you’d make the team, and if not, you wouldn’t. Today’s task is to create an eye-popping resume that would guarantee you a spot. List all of your swimming strengths and achievements, and don’t hold anything back because you need to sell yourself! When you’re through, read it to yourself one line at a time because seeing and repeating your accomplishments can enhance your view of you.


Want stronger triceps and faster times? Try this:

Lie face down on the ground with your legs straight and your feet hip-width apart. Next, place your hands beneath your shoulders with your toe tips resting on the ground. Next, assume a plank position with your head in a neutral position. Next, squeeze your upper arms tightly against the sides of your body with your elbows pointing backward. Next, press your body entirely upward while maintaining a plank position. Next, slowly lower your body to 3 inches off the ground. Next, continue the up and down sequence until failure. If you’re up for it, do a second set and then a third. Continue until your triceps feel like Jello! 


Do you listen intently when your coach is explaining the workout or correcting your technique? If you do, good for you, but looking and listening is an even better alternative. That’s because coaches tend to use visual cues to enhance their message, so if you’re not watching you could miss out. Today’s challenge is to give your coach your undivided attention (eyes and ears) for the entire practice. It may be tough to do, especially if you’re a space cadet, but it will be well worth the effort.


Here’s a favorite quote of mine, so memorize it and repeat it throughout the day:

“You don’t get what you wish for, you get what you work for.”


Working hard in practice will only get you so far, but working hard in practice with near-perfect technique will get you all the way! Today’s challenge is to implement five elite freestyle techniques while training your hardest:

  1. Keep your head low and still when not breathing. You’ll be more stable in the water.
  2. Keep the tip of your bottom goggle in the water when breathing. It will prevent you from over-breathing.
  3. Extend your arm fully when entering to increase your length and reach.
  4. For a stronger catch, keep your upper arm near the surface and flex your elbow joint first and your shoulder joint second.
  5. Finish your pull with a straight arm to maximize length and propulsion.


To move forward, a turtle must leave the protection of his shell and stick his neck out. Though risky, it’s the only way he can advance. To advance in swimming, you must do the same, so your challenge is to step outside of your comfort zone. It could mean going first in your lane, swimming faster on every repeat, kicking harder than you usually do, breathing less often, accelerating into the walls, or a combination of all the above! It doesn’t matter what you choose as long as you stick your neck out.


Inexperienced swimmers struggle with their nerves and perform poorly in competition. Today’s challenge is to practice 4-4-4 Breathing, a nerve-calming technique that will help you swim your best on race day. To begin, stand tall as if you’re standing behind the blocks at a swim meet. Next, inhale deeply to the count of four. Next, exhale deeply to the count of four while clearing your mind of all thought. Next “chill” for four, meaning enjoy the feeling of a calm mind and body. Repeat the process over and over again until you’re super relaxed. After that, make it part of your pre-race routine.


Swimmers often make decisions based on what they want to do rather than what they need to do to get faster. They may choose to sleep through morning practice or slack off in dry-land. Success in swimming is all about making the right choices. Like working your hardest on your least favorite sets, eating healthy foods versus junk food, and going to bed on time instead of staying up late to watch Netflix. Today’s bonus is to choose what’s best for your swimming no matter what! While it might not be your favorite, you’ll swim faster as a result.