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Feb. 18-March 3, 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!
MONDAYS: 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.
TUESDAYS: Boil Kick
Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. In swimming, it boils when you keep your legs and feet close to the surface and kick like crazy! Hopefully, you don’t dangle kick (like most swimmers do) meaning your legs just hang there moving slightly up and down with no rhyme or reason. But to be the best, you must push harder than the rest so today I want you to Boil Kick your backstroke and freestyle. You may not be able to walk by the end of practice, but at least you’ll swim faster!
WEDNESDAYS: 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.
THURSDAYS: Speed it up
How fast do you swim in practice? I know it depends on the set, but overall, how fast? If you’re uncertain, let me narrow it down for you by using my 1-5 Speed Scale, with 1 being “snail speed” and 5 being your absolute fastest. If you’re highly motivated with big-time ambitions, I bet you’d score a 4.75 or better, but if you’re like most, it’s probably closer to 4.25. At first glance, the difference may seem slight, but if you do the math, a 4.75 is 95 percent, while a 4.25 is 85 percent – a substantial difference in speed, wouldn’t you say? Your challenge is to maintain a 4.75 (or better) on every main set or “die” trying and don’t let me down because I’ll be watching you from afar.
FRIDAYS: Pull Harder
Do you know what hippies are? No, not the 70s kind in tie-dye shirts who drove around in VW buses and listened to psychedelic music. I mean the ones who swim backstroke and use their hips to pull harder. Funny, huh? They do it by rotating their hips approximately 45-degrees toward their pulling arm. From there, they forcefully drive their hips in the opposite direction as their arm pulls through. Combining these two actions engages the core and intensifies pulling power. It’s a cool technique used by backstroke superstars.
SATURDAYS: Triple Triple Sit-Ups
It’s time for your favorite swimming-related activity of all time, you guessed it, core work! I know you’ve been waiting for it so I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. To add some extra spice, I’ve selected one standard sit-up but with three different arm positions. Your challenge is to complete a total of 30 sit-ups in a row, ten of each. Once complete, take a mini-break and go another two rounds for a total of 90! Your core will never be the same again.
Sit-Up #1: Lie face up on the ground with your arms alongside your body. Next, curl your upper body into a high sit-up position keeping your legs straight and pressed firmly against the ground. Next, slowly ease yourself back to the starting position and repeat. Maintain a steady breath throughout.
Sit-Up #2: Lie face up on the ground with your arms directly above your shoulders like flagpoles. Next, curl your upper body into a high sit-up position keeping your legs straight and pressed firmly against the ground. Next, slowly ease yourself back to the starting position and repeat. Maintain a steady breath throughout.
Sit-Up #3: Lie face up on the ground and extend your arms outward to form a cross. Next, curl your upper body into a high sit-up position keeping your legs straight and pressed firmly against the ground. Next, slowly ease yourself back to the starting position and repeat. Maintain a steady breath throughout.
SUNDAYS: 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 Sunday, 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.
Click here to access current and past volumes of Coach Nick’s 14-Day Challenge.