Coach Nick’s 14-Day Challenge: Volume 9

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MAY 27-JUNE 9, 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: Perfect Push-Up Challenge

Ready to muscle up? You should because when you have more muscle, you’ll have more hustle! I’ve put together a little challenge that will strengthen you up, but before you get started allow me to go over some push-up basics. Start with your hands directly below your shoulders, make your body as straight as a plank, place your head in a neutral position (eyes facing downward), and don’t forget to breathe throughout. Slowly lower your body until your chest is six inches off the ground, then return to the starting position. Now that you understand the basics, let’s get started. Perform one perfect push up, stop, and take a 15-second break. Next, perform two perfect push-ups, stop, and take a 15-second break. Next, perform three perfect push-ups, stop, and take a 15-second break. Continue the process until you’ve completed ten perfect push-ups in a row. At first, it probably won’t seem like much of a challenge, but wait until the push-ups add up! If ten is too many, stop at five and work up from there.

Monday Bonus

If you breathe every stroke in butterfly, make it two today, and if you breathe every two, make it three. Oh, and I almost forgot, this challenge is for every length of butterfly and not just the first few.

TUESDAYS: 100% Streamline

What’s the fastest body position in swimming? You guessed it, streamline! That’s because when you do it well, it makes your body feel fast like a torpedo and reduces drag. To maximize your streamline off a start or turn, point your fingers, squeeze them together, and press one hand on top of the other. Next, extend your arms fully and place them tightly onto the back of your head. At this point, your eyes should be facing downward toward the bottom of the pool. Next, tighten every inch of your body from fingertips to toe tips. Finally, squeeze your legs tightly together. Learning how to streamline correctly isn’t the toughest part, however. The challenge comes when you have to do it off each and every wall for the entire practice!


3 x 10 Air Tucks. Here’s how: Jump up into the air as high as you can, tucking your knees into your chest each time.


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.

WEDNESday Bonus

It’s low-fat Wednesday, meaning you can’t eat anything that’s high in fat. So avoid Starbucks, McDonald’s, and your favorite decadent ice cream. Sorry, but that’s the price you pay for greatness!

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 a 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.

THURSday Bonus

3 x 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.


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!

FRIday Bonus

Consume a full bottle of water or your favorite sports drink before the end of practice, because a body low on fluids is low on speed!


Nowadays, you’re probably so busy that you have little time to think about the essential things in life. One of which is to recognize the good that you do on a daily basis. It could be helping your mom out at home, getting an “A” on a test, or making a challenge in practice that you’ve never made before. Whatever it is, it’s vitally important to recognize them before the memory fades. That’s why I want you to keep a list (for one full day) of all of your accomplishments big and small. You can write them down on a piece of paper or type them into your phone. By making an effort to recognize them, you’ll boost your pride and confidence.


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.


Do you know what R & R stands for? If you’re one of those swimmers that goes hard all the time, you may not. The first “R” stands for Rest, and your body requires a lot of it to perform at peak levels. The second “R” stands for Relaxation, and your mind needs periodic breaks to function at full throttle. So today, I challenge you to turn off your body and brain, and spend your free time doing something you enjoy and off the beaten path. It’s not wasted time, as some of you may think, because if you follow my advice, you’ll feel better come Monday when the grind begins once again.

SUNday Bonus

Eat five handfuls of five different vegetables today.