Coach Nick’s 14-Day Challenge: Volume 5

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APRIL 1-14, 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


  1. Streamline your body between strokes. Start with your fingertips and end with your toe tips. You’ll slice the water better and travel faster.
  2. Make your body level between strokes by placing your hands, the back of your head, and your feet in a straight line. That way your body will encounter less drag.
  3. Accelerate your pull from beginning to end. Your body travels further when you pull fast due to the increased water resistance on your arms.
  4. Take your breath midway through the pull and not at the beginning.
  5. Rather than lift your head to breath, use your sculling arms to elevate your upper body. That way it’s all one motion.


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.


Every racing lap begins with a streamline and to maximize your speed off the walls, it must be super tight. To increase your body awareness and strength give this challenging drill a try:

  • Stand tall with your legs and feet squeezed tightly together, your head in a neutral position, and your eyes facing directly forward.
  • Place your hands and arms behind your head in a super tight streamline, and point your fingertips to the sky.
  • Rise up on your tip toes pushing your hips forward (as needed) to straighten your back.
  • Hold the stance for 1 minute without losing your balance, and if you do, reset and try again.
  • Take 30 seconds rest and repeat 5 times.
  • Breathe deeply throughout.


If a pace clock could talk, it would tell you that swimmers tend to get more rest at the beginning of a set and little to no rest by the end. It could be due to a lack of fitness or because they don’t know how to pace themselves. Today’s challenge is to build your sets by increasing your effort repeat after repeat. That way you’ll get more rest when you need it the most and do a better job overall.


Bow Pose:

  • Lie face down on the ground with your arms at your sides.
  • Bend your knees and lift your chest off the ground.
  • Reach your arms back and grab your ankles.
  • Hold for 15 seconds, relax, and repeat 5 times.
  • Breathe deeply throughout. 

Dolphin Pose:

  • Rest on your hands and knees.
  • Bend your elbows, placing your forearms on the ground with your palms flat.
  • Lift the back of your knees to straighten your legs and tilt your head forward.
  • Hold for 15 seconds, relax, and repeat 5 times.
  • Breathe deeply throughout.


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.


  • You want floppy feet In swimming (not tight ones), so give this stretch a try:
  • Sit on the floor with your legs extended.
  • Place the foot you want to stretch over your other thigh to create the “number 4” with both legs.
  • Cup your heel with your closest hand and push it forward (making sure to relax your Achilles, the large tendon that runs from your calf to your heel).
  • Cup your toes with your other hand and pull back so that the bottom of your foot curves like a banana.
  • Hold for 15 seconds, relax, and repeat 3 times.
  • Switch feet and do the same.
  • Breathe deeply throughout.



There was a time when I coached some of the fastest swimmers in the world, most of them were in their late teens and early twenties. Even though they were on the older side, they were still kids at heart. They’d make jokes, pull pranks, and laugh at the silliest things, but once practice began, they were all in. Are you that way? If you are, keep it up because you’re on the right track! If you’re not, today’s the day to turn up your focus and get down to business. That means no silliness, no half-hearted efforts, and no socializing between sets.


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.


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.


You live in a hectic world where chasing the dream is a full-time obsession. Better grades in school, faster times in the pool, the latest iPhone or video game are all part of your daily grind. Even though you bust your butt from dawn to dusk, you’re never quite satisfied. When was the last time you took a moment to appreciate what you already have? It may not match what your best friends have, but it’s time you took note. Your task is to write down your blessings on a piece of paper and carry it with you wherever you go.


Downhill Skier:

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Bend your knees about halfway.
  • Rest your elbows on your upper legs and clasp your hands together.
  • Keep a straight spine, look forward, and pretend you’re skiing downhill. Hold for 15 seconds, relax, and repeat 5 times.
  • Breathe deeply throughout.  

Seated Twist:

  • Sit tall on the ground with your body in an L shape.
  • Bend your right knee and place your right foot on the outer side of your left leg.
  • Check that your spine is straight and your right foot is flat on the ground. Twist your head and upper body to the right.
  • Take your left elbow to the outer side of your right knee and place the palm of your right hand back behind you.
  • Hold for 15 seconds, relax, and repeat on the other side.
  • Repeat both sides 3 times.
  • Breathe deeply throughout.

Want More?

Click here to access current and past volumes of Coach Nick’s 14-Day Challenge.