“One of the best!” That’s quite a statement, but that’s exactly right. Dr. Sam Freas, currently head swimming coach at Oklahoma Baptist University allowed me to preview a few chapters of his latest book Sprinting II: It Takes Guts. After reading it I’ve concluded he has to be one of the best of all time. Why, you may ask?
First of all, when you read it, it becomes glaringly evident he knows how to make people swim fast, have fun, love swimming and get the best out of his athletes. Period. Take a look at every team he has coached: Allegheny, State University of New York at Potsdam, Iowa, Arkansas, LSU, Hawaii, and Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU); all were turned from lack luster teams to having their best years during Sam’s tutelage. Every one of his teams came into national prominence in a short period of time.
Sam gives his athletes the spark they never knew existed. You will discover why many of them become Olympic, world and national champions. Perhaps even more amazing is that many swimmers who never indexed major success went on to become world-class swimmers under Sam. I speak from personal experience as I had nearly given up on my college swimming career when I got connected with Sam, and decided to transfer to OBU. That next year, my final year of eligibility, I posted my lifetime fastest times and helped achieve something remarkable for a first-year team, capturing the NAIA national championship title. I am not a swimming historian but it had to be the first time in swimming history for such an accomplishment.
My dad Ian also swam for Sam at the University of Iowa where Sam was doing doctoral studies. He and my mom met there and subsequently moved to Arkansas where he still coaches after nearly 40 years. I recently have proudly accepted the reins from my dad, and we can now be found side by side on the pool deck in Fort Smith.
You’ll get a lot of personal stories in this book while learning valuable truths. Sam has never been boring, and in Sprinting II he recounts many adventures during his coaching tenure—stories swimmers and coaches can relate to and use to enhance their own perspectives. It’s an entertaining and easy-to-read book; everyone will get something out of it.
One thing I love about Sam is that he admits his mistakes, and this makes his discoveries very interesting. You will see why he creates a team atmosphere of caring, love, and family while at the same time educating and entertaining. I have read several chapters, and can’t wait to get my autographed copy which is coming soon. I know you’ll enjoy reading it too! Go to sprintswimming.com to get your copy.
Tom Bullock is the coach of the Fort Smith Tideriders, in Fort Smith, Arkansas and an NAIA All American swimmer while at Oklahoma Baptist University. He also serves as the swim coach for Fort Smith high schools.