The Auburn swimming and diving program - like all other sports at AU - are expected to be able to compete at the highest levels possible. With that in mind the Auburn swimming staff, just like all other Olympic sports, entrusts Olympic sports strength and conditioning coach Bryan `PK' Karkoska with their athletes.
At Auburn, athletes are made faster, stronger and more athletic through the intensity and genius of the strength and conditioning program. Karkoska and his staff transfers his intensity and enthusiasm into his weight room through workouts.
"PK is an extraordinary coach, teacher, motivator and has had a lot to do with building the physical and mental side of being a great competitor in the Auburn program," said head coach Richard Quick. "He has had a lot to do with building the team spirit of Auburn's program and then you couple that with the expertise that he has in the weight room and with his dry-land program and the circuit with his ability to transition what happens in the weight room to the water is really extraordinary. He is just a great asset to the Auburn team."
Known throughout the Auburn swimming and diving program for its legendary workouts is PK's circuit-training, which combines weight lifting and cardio-vascular exercises. The sessions last for approximately an hour during the preseason and are used to establish and build team cohesiveness and the Auburn swimming work ethic and discipline. The circuit-training coincides with the training in the pool with an increased intensity on the dryland side, as well as, challenges the student-athlete both physically an mentally.
"The circuit was by far the hardest part of the season, but PK made sure that it was never an individual effort, the team got though circuit together. It's what bonded us in the end, and in essence made us tougher," said Aaron Ciarla, former men's team captain and a member of the 1997 and 1999 national championship teams.
"PK's workouts are just as hard, if not harder, than swim workouts," former AU swimmer and 2003 national champion Justin Caron said.
"Swimmers here are the ultimate champions, and they take a lot of pride in that," Karkoska said. "If any other team on campus got second-place in the nation, the city would shut down. Only the swim team sees second-place as a failure. They have the most pride of any team I coach."
Karkoska's credible reputation follows him. Numerous universities call on a regular basis to find out what exactly he does with his program and in the weight room. He has also worked closely with the physiology department on several issues and has had numerous articles and essays published about exercise physiology and general health.
A 1994 graduate of Auburn with a bachelor of science degree in exercise science, Karkoska, a Chicago, Ill., native, also earned his Masters of Education with an emphasis in exercise physiology on the Plains in 1996.
He is married to the former Carrie McCambridge.