The Diamond drill in open water- Learn to swim faster as a team

The Diamond Drill – a rhombus in open water

How to get to the golden position?

The diamond drill, as befits its name, is one of the most interesting, challenging and important drills in open water.

This drill will teach you how to be attentive to your team.

How to change your pace

Dominate every possible position and finally swim much faster individually and as a group

, while maintaining your neck and lower back according to the WEST swimming technique.

This drill combines all the other drills, from knowing how to swim very close to another swimmer without touching him, dominating the right and left sides, changing pace, to managing an overview of all the other swimmers in the team. It basically helps you become a diamond swimmer, a multi swimmer who can dominate every position in any type of sea, to be in one place one minute and in another the next. The objective of the drill is not only the quick exchanges but making the position change in an elegant manner, while keeping a low pulse and with zero friction with the other swimmers.

Step 1 – Diamond without changing the leader.

Four swimmers swim in a diamond shape – the front swimmer leads and the rest follow. Everybody swims close to the leader. The left and right swimmers stretch their hands to the line of the leader’s waist, and the last swimmer is between them, exactly behind the leader.

At this first stage, the leading swimmer will be the fastest swimmer and he will be in charge of the pace, meaning he will swim at a reasonable pace, but not too slow, in order for the other swimmers to learn the formation and keep up the pace.

This part seems easy and simple. The problem is that in the sea we don’t have perfect conditions. The sea keeps changing, there are turbulences and waves, and the lead swimmer doesn’t have the line on the bottom of the pool to go by, so that every small shift will cause the entire formation to shift. The goal of every swimmer is to swim very close to the swimmer next to him, but when there’s a shift to slide according to the movement of the leader, without touching the body or the legs of the swimmer in front. A stiff swimmer will constantly touch the legs of the swimmer in front of him and will get tired much faster.

Throughout the formation swim all the swimmers must see what’s going on in the formation and be able to respond to any situation quickly.

Step 2 – Switching the leader and the position of the swimmers every 200m

The goal of this part is to get to a points where all the swimmers swims tightly, keep the formation and practice all the positions adequately. Swimmers who can’t breathe on both sides will have trouble maintaining the formation when they are on their “wrong” side.

In this drill you stop for 15 seconds, change positions and swim another 200m. The swimming pace should be at 65-75% of capacity.

After you feel comfortable in your position start thinking WEST; drag your legs, glide according to your flexibility level and find your neutral head position.

At first you’ll find it hard to maintain the formation, but slowly you’ll begin to understand the positions, know how to perform all the parts and get an incredible feeling of satisfaction.

Step 3 – The Diamond changes and starts to “glow”

Changing Diamond is one of the most exciting drills for a coach, and when the group succeeds there’s a “high” that can’t be explained.

The success of the drill depends on everybody understanding all the parts and performing the switches in the fastest, most elegant way.

We positioned each swimmer according to the order of switching: The leader is 1, and going clockwise the second swimmer to take the lead is the left one.

The second swimmer counts 40 strokes and then picks up the pace and takes the lead, quickly correcting his line of swimming.

At the same time swimmer no. 3, who was in the middle and to the back, moves over #2’s legs, from his right side to his left.

Moving to far back during the switch can make that swimmer loos the group.

Passing over the other swimmers’ knees can make the switch quick and flawless, without touching the other swimmer.

Swimmer #4, if he is not alert, might stay out of the picture entirely, and that means that when he sees a switch on his left he has to respond promptly, move from #1’s right side to his left and find the golden position between the swimmers and right behind the leader.

It’s important to remember that the objective of this drill is to respond quickly within the group, which means that the swimmer who takes the lead has to do so fast, but not go all out, because if he does so the other swimmers might not be able to keep up the pace and the formation might break.

The meaning of swimming WEST in this drill (and in general) is neutralizing and maintaining your neck and lower back. This way you’ll tire slower. This means that once you’ve found your new position you try to elongate your stroke, lower your pulse, relax your hands and in fact be ready for another “onslaught” that can come from every direction in a real competition. If you haven’t lowered your pace, comes “money time”, you won’t be able to increase your speed, and you’ll be left behind.

Only when you’ve succeeded doing 40 strokes per switch, you can go down to 30, 20 and 10 strokes, and then do the same thing counterclockwise.

*Why is the left swimmer the one who counts the stroke (in a clockwise switch)?

Because he is the one who responds first and takes the lead, and all the rest have to follow him quickly.

*Why is the Diamond drill so important, and why should you practice it for several swimming workouts?

  1. It teaches us to work in a team, which is one of the most important parameters in training as a whole, and especially in open water training.
  2. It teaches you, as a lone swimmer, to dominate every position in the formation, and in fact to be a multi-talent swimmer.
  3. It teaches you not to be concentrated only on yourself or the feet in front of you, but to anticipate future moves and know how to respond quickly to any change, exactly like a Chess Master.
  4. It teaches you to switch positions quickly, so that nothing could surprise you.
  5. It teaches you to pick up the pace from one moment to the next and know when to lower the pace and pulse after the quick formation switch.


The Diamond drill is one of the rarest, most important and most educational drills for a beginner swimmer as well as for the world’s top professional swimmers.

If you liked the drill, don’t forget to share it with your friends, and if you really want to make me happy, send me a video of you, doing the Diamond drill, switching every 20 strokes. Do this, and you’ll make me the happiest man alive .


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