Master coaches Brian Stehr and Peter Diamond.
Master coaches Brian Stehr and Peter Diamond.

Peter is no rough Diamond, just a gem of a coach

Few things slip past the keen eyes of Noosa's Peter Diamond after six decades in the unforgiving business of top-level swim coaching.

It's hard to have the jump on the respected and much-loved master coach who in his time has nurtured the talents of world beater Tracey Wickham and fellow Olympians Rebecca Creedy and Bronte Barratt.

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That's because he still rises early in the morning to set the lane ropes in the Good Shepherd Lutheran College pool ready for the squad he and fellow champion coach Brian Stehr train.

However, Peter admits to being blindsided at squad training by a clever conspiracy to celebrate his 80th birthday.

Master coaches Brian Stehr and Peter Diamond.
Master coaches Brian Stehr and Peter Diamond.

"Did I ever get a surprise, I've managed to slip past the last three (birthdays) with nobody knowing," Diamond said.

"It was a big ambush."

His staff, swimmers and their parents presented Peter with a gift box, but the truth is the kids and their development into fine young people are his elixir of youth.

"I've always given them a pat on the back when they're going and they think I'm saying good for them, but I'm really robbing a bit of youth off them," he said.

"I get up at 4.20 in the mornings so that I can get up here and have everything ready by 5.30," he said.

Peter Diamond the birthday boy.
Peter Diamond the birthday boy.

"It's really rewarding, you do get a kick out of it."

Peter's not putting a use-by date on his coaching career any time soon.

"I'm a bit scared to give up here, I still take the lane ropes out and I put the lane ropes in and I'm really active," he said.

"I've got kids here now that started with me when they were little tackers that are all starting to make teams and are looking good and so it's good to travel along with them."

Peter admitted to being a serial retiree after he quit coaching to move to the Sunshine Coast in 2008.

The was after the Englishman, who was a Guernsey swim champion, took his first coaching course at Crystal Palace in London back in 1963 before making the move to Australia in 1966.

He joined the Maroochy Surf Life Saving Club where he met up with champion swimmer John Rigby, who was looking for a swimming pool manager for the long-gone Sandgate saltwater baths.

One of his morning duties there was to walk the pool perimeter each morning to net the jelly fish before squad training.

His talented charges over a long career also included former Australian swimmers Jo Litzow and Michael Bohl, but Peter still loves coaching at all levels after being coaxed out of retirement by Mr Stehr.

This living gem of a coach is a poolside treasure.
This living gem of a coach is a poolside treasure.

"Brian Stehr was coaching at Noosa and I was going for a swim every morning and he said 'do you want to do some coaching?' and I said 'no, I'm finished now'.

"Next thing he said can you help me out until Christmas?"

Peter did that, retired again, but was lured back to the pool deck for a fill-in coaching spot at Good Shepherd Lutheran College pool in Noosaville.

When the lease became available he and Brian decided to "take it on".

Everyone on pool deck on Tuesday was so glad the Brisbane, Redcliffe, Guernsey and Queensland swimming life member and legend continued to share his good grace, and a wealth of life experience with them.

Peter said his biggest rewarded was seeing his squad members rise to life challenges.

"You get a lot of little kids with problems and when you first get them you go 'we've got no chance here' and then eventually you see them swimming and thoroughly enjoying it," he said.

"They're doing fantastic things, it's about working on not so much making them swimmers, but seeing them improve.

"You see them, they've made a Wide Bay team or a Brisbane team or something like that and they can walk around with all their gear on, it gives them a real boost.

"There's no off days like in a team sport where you can have an off day and your mates can carry you through.

"If you have an off day in swimming the stopwatch tells you."


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