Want to take the challenge?
If you want to receive Coach Nick’s 14-Day Challenge in your inbox every two weeks, sign up here:
APRIL 29-may 12, 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: HAVE TO’S VERSUS WANT TO’S
There are two kinds of swimmers, “have to’s” and “want to’s,” and they’re easy to tell apart. The first group will do what the coach asks them to do but reluctantly; while the second group does everything with enthusiasm. Both groups send out a distinct vibe and a good coach can tell them apart – as it shows in swimmers’ body language, energy level, participation, and in what they say (or don’t say). I love to work with “want to” swimmers, and I’ll go out of my way to help them. Today’s challenge is to send out that vibe to your coach all practice long.
If you breathe every stroke in butterfly, make it every two; and if you breathe every two, make it every three.
TUESDAYS: THE LONGER THE RACE, THE LESS SIZE MATTERS
If I had a son or daughter in swimming who was “vertically challenged,” I’d encourage them to compete in distances 200-yards/meters and above, because size can be a factor in sprint events. It is not uncommon for taller swimmers, who are less physically and technically prepared, to beat shorter swimmers, who are more physically and technically prepared, due to a longer reach and bigger muscles. Distances of 200-yards/meters and up can level the playing field, allowing smaller swimmers to gain the upper hand through superior technical and physical preparation. Did you know that the average height of elite-level female 50 freestylers is 5-foot, 11-inches and the average height of elite-level male 50 freestyles is 6-foot, 5-inches? While you can’t do anything about your height, you can do something about your preparation, so today train like your best events are 200 and above.
Drink at least two glasses of water at breakfast, lunch, and dinner because your body runs better when it’s hydrated.
WEDNESDAYS: PREPARE TO SUCCEED
Want to eliminate racing doubt? Imagine swimming a race and knowing you can achieve your goal? Sound like a dream? It can be your reality if you follow one simple rule. Prepare yourself beyond the goal that you’re trying to achieve. If your current goal rates an 8:10, prepare yourself to a 9; and if your current goal rates a 9:10, prepare yourself to a 10. The main reason you doubt yourself in the first place is that you don’t feel up to the challenge, so if you train yourself beyond it, the uncertainty will disappear. Sound too good to be true? Give it a try, and you’ll see what I mean. I’ll be waiting to hear the good news!
In backstroke, hold your breath for one or two stroke cycles off each breakout.
THURSDAYS: STAY UNDER LONGER
Kathleen Baker spent a good 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 or almost 50%. At the same competition, Caeleb Dressel spent around 40% of his time underwater in his gold-medal victory in the 100-butterfly. His time was 43.58 seconds with 18.60 seconds spent underwater. The quality of the time spent underwater is key to your swimming success, especially in the butterfly and backstroke events. Therefore, you must challenge yourself to maintain a hyper-streamline position off every wall in practice while maximizing your speed and distance. If you currently perform five body whips, make it six. Once you can do six, make it seven. Keep going and growing until you’re unstoppable!
In breaststroke, hold your breath for one or two stroke cycles off each breakout.
FRIDAYS: FEAR LESS
When you were born you feared nothing, but it didn’t last long – because as you matured and experienced life, you also experienced unpleasant situations and grew frightened of people, places, and things. The downside of fear is that it can put a damper on your life and limit your God-given potential. Most swimmers find the racing side of swimming the scariest part, and perhaps you do as well. If so, you must find a way to rise above, so that you can perform at your peak on race day. The first step is to identify whatever scares you the most. You can start by reading through this short list and checking off those fears that ring true. Fear of:
- The unknown
- Being afraid
- Not swimming a personal best time
- Disappointing your coach
- Being beaten by your arch rival
- Not making finals
- Getting disqualified
- Not medaling
- Coming in last
- Losing by a lot
- Hitting your head on the wall on a backstroke turn or finish
- Disappointing your parents
- Competing in an event for the first time
Some fears are the result of a sheer lack of preparation, like “dying” in a race. To rise above, improve your fitness so it won’t happen. Other fears are caused by a lack of experience, like anchoring a relay. You can overcome that one by anchoring more relays and gaining much-needed experience. Still, other fears are like two-headed dragons that are extremely difficult to slay on your own. When you find yourself dealing with one of these, it’s best to place your focus on something entirely different, something that you have complete control over, like achieving a personal best time. In Week 2 of this challenge, put a plan together to help you overcome what you fear most.
If you breathe every two strokes in freestyle, make it every three or four.
SATURDAYS: KICK BUTT
If you were to watch the women’s and men’s 100 and 200-backstroke final and the 100 and 200-freestyle final from the 2016 Olympic Games, you’d notice a common trait amongst all eight finalists. What’s that? They maintain a boil kick from start-to-finish, which means a robust 6-beat kick that takes place just below the water’s surface. Kicking in this manner guarantees an ideal body position and full speed from the legs. To add this Olympic skill to your repertoire, you must commit to kicking like crazy in practice. Why not get started today?
Your challenge is to “out swim” your lane mates today. And if you’re the lane leader, then challenge the people in the lane next to you!
SUNDAYS: I WANT TO BE, BUT IT’S NOT FOR ME
Swimmers often tell me that they want to swim at a top college or in the Olympics, but frequently pull back when I explain to them what they’ll need to get there. For example, when I outline the additional amount of time and energy that they’ll need to dedicate to their swimming, they tell me that they’re too busy for that. In other words, “I want to be, but it’s not for me.” To achieve any far-reaching goal, you must be willing to accept whatever needs doing, and you don’t get to pick and choose! Today I’d like you to reflect on your major swimming goal and ask yourself one simple question, “Am I willing to do whatever it takes to get there and am I living up to my goal in all ways possible?” If so, keep it up; and if not, it’s time to step up, or get real and downsize your goal! In Week 2 of this challenge, outline the changes you’ve made. Hopefully, for the better.
Relax by going for a walk in nature today. Count your blessings and love yourself for who you are.
Click here to access current and past volumes of Coach Nick’s 14-Day Challenge.