Remembering The Great Swimming Coach Sam Freas
Like many in the swimming community, it saddened me to hear of the recent passing of Sam Freas. To say that Sam was and is an inspiration to many is an understatement, to say it mildly. The recent outpouring of love, kind words, and memories from strangers and friends alike is a testament to his impact.
Sam’s 1995 classic “Sprinting: A Coach’s Challenge” was the first swimming book I ever purchased; it’s water-stained pages somehow remain intact after 20 years of wear and tear. I have no doubt this book inspired many; it certainly motivated me to dive head first into swim coaching and sprint training specifically. Some 16 years after first purchasing the book, it inspired me to write my own. I’ll be thankful to sell even an eighth of the copies that Sam sold throughout his illustrious career.
As the years go by I find myself thinking quite a bit about impact and legacy. Precisely, how do we measure our contributions to the world and is there a good, better, or best way to do so? I’ve concluded that I do not know the answer and that more thought is required. Some people make an impact (and a tremendous one, at that) in their family and the local community. Some make an impact nationwide, and some, the world over. A rare few make an impact in all of the aforementioned spheres of influence. I am not inclined to say that one path is better or more significant than another. I do know that Sam is in the latter category, and we’re all the better because he chose to dream big and share his ideas with the world.
I never had the opportunity to meet Sam Freas, yet he inspired me to coach, write, love, laugh, and even shed a few tears along the way. Perhaps another way to measure impact - How many can you inspire without meeting them...and to what degree?
Many thanks, Sam. Hammer Down will always be a way of life!