2012 Olympic Silver medalist (100 backstroke) and Gold medalist (400 medley relay)
2014 Pan Pacific Team Member
2011 World Champion (400 medley relay)
2x World Record Holder (100 backstroke, 400 medley relay SCM)
2015 Pan American Games Gold Medalist 100 back
2015 Pan American Games Record Holder, 100 Back
You may know Nick Thoman from his multiple top finishes spanning the 2012 Olympic Games, World Championships, Pan Pacs, Pan American Games and World University Games, but did you know that his first competitive national experience happened at the age of 14 while attending an all-boys sports camp?
Nick, along with a group of 13 and 14-year-old boys, found an old canoe and only trained for about five weeks before entering a competition. “I was better at canoeing than swimming growing up,” he laughs. They managed to qualify for a national competition, all while having a blast with his friends.
This experience taught him the value of working hard toward a goal while also having fun, and he creates this same atmosphere at his clinics. Nick channels his contagious energy into connecting with each participant and family, drawing from his decades of competitive expertise: “My favorite part about clinics is seeing the swimmers improve over the course of the day!”
Nick is passionate about building great swimmers from the ground up, not just as swimmers but as all-around athletes. Recognizing the value of cross-training and participating in multiple sports, Nick says: “Everyone who swims is an athlete who chooses to swim. Being a multi-sport athlete growing up allowed me to pick up and master different motions better than people who specialize from a very early age.”
No matter your age or skill level, Nick makes sure that his participants are paying attention to the most foundational elements of fast swimming.
“I’m a big proponent of body-line work. You have to make sure everything is solid starting from the very basics, because that’s how good swimming is developed. Streamline is probably the most important thing you will ever be taught – master it on every wall.”
Nick believes the key to mastering each component of your swimming lies in one key skill: paying attention. Though this may not seem like a groundbreaking piece of advice, it is crucial for all swimmers to incorporate it into their everyday practice to improve over time.
“I tell everyone that they key to success lies in paying attention. Pick a skill to work on everyday. Make one little tiny thing better, and that’s how you get to be one of the best.”
In addition to adding a few physical skills to a swimmer’s repertoire, Nick recognizes the importance of adding mental training into daily practice.
“My biggest recommendation is to do a little bit of mental training every day. It sounds super cliche, but if you think about your favorite race for five minutes every day or about your streamline position, that’s all you need.”
This visualization exercise helps athletes to focus on what is under their control – not on what others are doing or the surrounding environment, which is ultimately outside of their control. Nick encourages swimmers to be internally driven and tune out external distractions:
“My focus wasn’t on who was coming up behind me, or what others were doing in the world: It was on what I was doing every day in practice.”
Do the daily motions right, and you may surprise yourself with the results. Nick advises participants to “pick a few of your favorite drills from the clinic to work on and watch clinicians perform key drills on our Videos on Demand app. It has a lot of great material and crucial skills for everyone to learn, even coaches.”
Set yourself up for success both in and out of the pool by signing up for Nick’s next clinic!
“Nick ‘s story was particularly relatable because he wasn’t always a top notch swimmer. He worked hard and set goals for himself and he continually got better. It was a great message. He was fantastic with the swimmers!”
“The class was large, but he managed to give personal instructions to all levels. And he called out kids when they weren’t listening. Hooray! We spent time and money to go and I’m glad he kept the kids and class on track.”
“Thanks for the advice to my son – reminding him that swimming should, first and foremost, be fun is something that has stuck with him and helped with the grind of his year-round practice.” -Marc, from Voorhees, NJ
“Nick Thoman did an incredible job breaking down freestyle and backstroke into tangible and digestible drills. His experience sharing is also motivating! Incredible journey to get to the Olympic. Thank you for an incredible workshop. What you said to him at the end, that he looks like a backstroker is a great boost of confidence and break his silly notion that he can only develop as a breaststroker. Thanks!” – Kai in Stony Brook, NY
Nick Thoman is a featured clinician on our Swim Videos on Demand app. Click here to learn more about Swim Videos on Demand.