SwimmersBest Drill of the Month: Karla Breaststroke

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.

SwimmersBest is leading the way for the future of swim training equipment.  The company offers a broad range of solutions for improving stroke technique, kick technique, and breathing technique.   They provide swimmers, coaches, and teams with the tools they need to balance technique training with conditioning training.  By combining the best drills with the best tools, the SwimmersBest products give swimmers instant tactile feedback so they can adjust their technique efficiently.   The old way of having coaches constantly remind swimmers of their individual problems has proven to offer very little improvement in technique.  All SwimmersBest products are designed to constantly ‘talk to the swimmers’ so they can feel the problems and make corrections.   This unique approach means the swimmers are given negative feedback for incorrect stroke technique, which compels the swimmers to quickly correct the problem on their own. With a constant flow of new innovative product designs, SwimmersBest is a company that will continue to deliver solutions you need.






Swimming gear news courtesy of SwimmersBest, a SwimSwam partner.

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5 years ago

Coach Zach says that to perform the Karla drill, “Take the hip undulation of the butterfly and then carry that into your nice long recovery in your breaststroke”.

I interpret that to mean: The goal of the drill is to learn how to apply the same hips undulation of the butterfly to your breaststroke and then carry that hips undulation into your nice long recovery of your arms in your breaststroke. By following a butterfly recovery with a breaststroke pull, this flow is simulated, so that when followed by a complete breaststroke, there is a better feel for this flow.

And from this I get that the timing between the hips undulation and the arms recovery in the butterfly is… Read more »

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six with the Clay Center Tiger Sharks, a summer league team. At age 14 he began swimming club year-round with the Manhattan Marlins (Manhattan, KS), which took some convincing from his mother as he was very …

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