SwimmersBest Drill of the Month: Karla Breaststroke

By Reid Carlson
September 30th, 2018

SwimSwam thanks SwimmersBest for sponsoring “Drill of the Month.” This is a SwimSwam recurring feature that brings drills and idea submissions from various creative and innovative coaches all over the world.

This month, Coach Ben Lee brings us the drill known as Karla Breaststroke, a unique combination of butterfly and breaststroke developed by Coach David Marsh and Karla Wilson at Auburn University. Karla Breaststroke or the Karla Drill follows a sequence of four movements: one stroke of right-arm butterfly, one stroke of left-arm butterfly, and two complete stroke cycles of no-breath breaststroke. As the swimmer must remain low and flat during the two strokes of breaststroke while swimming the Karla Drill, it is recommended that the swimmer use a snorkel when performing this drill.

The purpose of combining the single-arm butterfly with the no-breath breaststroke is to ensure energy continues going forward during the recovery phase of the breaststroke, as opposed to up and down. The swimmer will set up for their breaststroke by first performing one stroke each of right-arm and left-arm butterfly, and must then focus on a deep and fluid undulation while maintaining a proper body line during the two cycles of breaststroke. The swimmer must stay low and flat in the water.

This drill is demonstrated by Zach Mandel of Nomad Aquatics in Huntersville, NC. Zach is coached by Nomad’s Head Coach Mark Minier. Coach Mark, who has been with Nomad for three years, formerly coached at Swim Atlanta for 17 years where he oversaw the development of many National Team swimmers, including former American Record Holder Kathleen Hersey.