Coach Nick’s 14-Day Challenge: Volume 13

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JULY 22-AUGUST 4, 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

MONDAYS: Writer’s Cramp

If you want to achieve a goal, you should write it down first in detail. Vividly describing your objectives in written form multiplies goal success, a scientific fact. The act of writing improves your brain’s encoding process which determines what information gets stored into your long-term memory and what get’s discarded. No doubt your all-important swimming goals should be first and foremost in your mind, so writing them down is an absolute must do. Your challenge is twofold. For today, write down your 2019 swimming goals in no less than 100 words. For next Monday, write down your ultimate swimming goal in no less than 200 words. Remember the more descriptive, the better, so write like you’re a New York Times best-selling author! Once you’re through, tape both goal sheets on your bedroom wall or bathroom mirror to serve as a daily reminder.

Monday Bonus:

In practice today, sprint into every turn from the flags with no breathing!

TUESDAYS: Your Age In Burpees

Today you’re going to challenge your body with an all-time favorite exercise known as a burpee, which consists of five steps. First, stand at attention with your head in a neutral position, your back straight, and your feet shoulder-width apart. Next, bend your knees and lower your palms to the ground while keeping your head in a neutral position. Next, extend both of your legs powerfully backward until they’re fully extended and your body assumes a plank-like position. Next, perform one perfect push-up. Next, explosively draw both of your knees directly forward and under your hips. Next, jump directly upward into a full streamline position. If one set isn’t challenging enough for you, do another!

TUESDAY Bonus: 3x your age in backbreakers

Here’s how: lie face down on the ground with your legs fully extended, and toes pointed. Fold your arms in front of you and rest your chin on top of them (eyes forward). Raise your elbows and chest as high as possible with your chin remaining in contact with your folded arms. Move up and down in a smooth, continuous motion making sure not to touch the ground with your elbows. Maintain a steady breath throughout. Take a 30-second rest between rounds.

WEDNESDAYS: Affirmations

Almost every person is confronted with negative thoughts from time-to-time. For some, negative thinking is a chronic habit. What we don’t realize is how destructive negative thought patterns can be. It can decrease our confidence, affect our mood, and overall outlook on life. Another downside is that negative thinking can be self-fulfilling. Through constant repetition, we gradually convince ourselves that we’re inadequate. Luckily, we can use the very same principle to our advantage by reversing our thinking through positive affirmations. So instead of entertaining negative thoughts that drag you down, you can use uplifting, positive statements that give you strength and courage. That’s why today is affirmation day! Stand in front of a mirror and repeat each of the ones listed below. Next, write a few of your favorites on a piece of paper and whisper them to yourself throughout the day. Oh, and don’t forget to repeat them once again before going off to sleep at night. At first, you may not fully believe them, but give them a chance, because they’ll grow on you.

If you prefer to create your own list, please feel free!

  • I have faith in myself.
  • My body is relaxed, and my mind is calm.
  • I quickly adjust to new situations.
  • Day-by-day I grow in confidence.
  • My potential for success is unlimited.
  • I see failures as stepping stones to success.
  • I’m courageous and confront my fears.
  • Everything I do leads to something better.
  • I love myself and enjoy being me.
  • Life takes care of my needs.
  • I deserve success.
  • There is always another way and a better solution.
  • I forgive myself when I make mistakes.
  • I stay calm in frustrating situations.
  • Life wants the best for me.

WEDNESday Bonus:

In practice today, sprint into every finish from the flags with no breathing!

THURSDAYS: Underwater Travel

No matter what the race, once you break the surface off the start, there’s only swimming and turning left. If you’re like most, you probably think that the swimming portion in 50 and 100 races determine the victor but think again, because nowadays underwater travel seems to be the weapon of choice. Let’s take a look at two swimming phenoms to gain a better perspective. Kathleen Baker spent a significant portion of her 100-backstroke race underwater in her gold-medal victory at the 2017 NCAA Championships. Her time was 49.84 seconds with 23.13 seconds spent underwater (almost 50 percent)! At the same competition, Caeleb Dressel spent approximately forty percent of his time underwater in his gold-medal victory in the 100-butterfly. His time was 43.58 seconds with 18.60 seconds below the surface. To heighten your chance of stardom, I challenge you to increase your underwater travel by at least one yard per turn. If you’re not sure where to begin, blast off the walls and tighten your streamline.

THURSday Bonus: 10 minute circle stretch

Here’s how: circle your neck, shoulders, arms, hips, and ankles in both directions until you feel tension-free.

FRIDAYS: Sweet Spot

Did you know that the propulsive phase of the breaststroke kick should resemble the shape of an egg (oval) and not a triangle? The egg-shaped pattern begins at the high-heel catch position when your feet rotate maximally outward to grab the water. From here, they follow the shape of an egg from beginning to end. As your feet travel backward, they should accelerate dramatically in speed with the fastest part occurring just past your knees until completion. I use the term “sweet spot” to describe this all-important stage of the kick. Your feet should also point directly backward at the finish to minimize drag.


Today is Flex Friday, a day devoted to enhancing your ankle flexibility and maximizing propulsion. Here’s how: from a standing position, lift your right foot off the ground and point it towards the sky holding for three seconds, then towards the ground for three seconds. The harder the point, the better the stretch. Repeat 10 times in a row, then switch feet.

SATURDAYS: Pro and Con

Self-honesty is vital to swimming success because knowing where you stand determines your next course of action. If you’re on fire and dropping tons of time, stay the course, but if you’re struggling (to one degree or another), it’s time to face the truth and reverse direction. Take a piece of paper and make two columns by drawing a line down the middle. Write Pro on top of one column and Con on top of the other. On the Pro side, list what’s working in your swimming, and on the Con side, list what’s not. Once you’re through, pick one thing from the Con column and take immediate action to correct it. If you don’t know where to begin, ask your parents or coach for guidance.

SATURday Bonus:

97% percent of all swimmers float into their turns in practice, but that’s a massive mistake because quicker turns equal faster times! So I challenge you to swim “Through your turns,” meaning no gap between your last stroke and the wall (regardless of stroke). To improve your odds, start planning at the backstroke flags, while you still have time and space to adjust.

SUNDAYS: VISualization

Lie flat on your back, close your eyes, turn on your mind-camera, and visualize the perfect race from start-to-finish. See yourself blasting off the block, racing with perfect strokes and turns, and finishing first in record time.


Take a break because you’ve earned it!