Dr. Samuel 'Sam' Freas (died 24 March 2019) is one of the world's most passionate, knowledgeable and successful open water swimming coaches, administrators and promoters. He is also a former Olympic and NCAA Division I pool swimming coach and the Oklahoma Baptist University swimming coach.
Dr. Freas was coach at the University of Arkansas from 1978-1985. During that time he was elected as the Southwest Conference Coach of the Year five times. Under his guidance, the team finished 22nd, 13th, 11th, 12th, and 10th, in the NCAA. Four of this relay team set US records and one world record.
He also discovered and developed 7-time world professional marathon swimming champion Shelley Taylor-Smith and escorted and advised 7-time world professional marathon swimming champion Paul Asmuth. He also organized and hosted the first FINA World Open Water Swimming Championships in Honolulu, Hawaii in 2000 that was broadcast on American television.
With a doctorate in education, Dr. Freas combines an academic approach to coaching with a heartfelt passion for developing athletes.
While at the University of Arkansas, he was president of the College Swim Coaches Association, and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. In 1982, he was selected to visit the Peoples Republic of China as a Swim Ambassador.
Dr. Freas was also the President and Chief Executive Officer of the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida from 1989-2004.
Dr. Freas coached the Republic of South Africa's swim team in the Olympics and has been the head coach at Arkansas, Hawaii and Louisiana State, as well as SUNY-Potsdam and Allegheny College. He was 64-12 at Allegheny, 84-15 at Arkansas, 61-9 at LSU and 40-0 at Hawaii in dual meets, with multiple top-10 team finishes at each stop. His swimmers at Arkansas set seven U.S. records, three world records and produced 11 Olympians and one world champion. In all, 19 of his college swimmers have competed in the Olympics.
In addition to his work with athletic programs, Dr. Freas has served as a faculty member at Arkansas, LSU and Allegheny College. He also was director of athletics and health, physical education and recreation at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and associate dean at Palm Beach State College in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Freas was Southwest Conference Coach of the Year four times, Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year three times and Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year twice in swimming and once in diving.
An author of several books on swimming, Dr. Freas attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and graduated from Springfield College with bachelor's and master's degrees. He did Ph.D. degree studies at Iowa before earning a doctor of education degree from California Western.
Talking Collegiate Open Water
Shelley Taylor-Smith and Dr. Sam Freas talk about collegiate open water swimming at the inaugural CSCAA National Collegiate Open Water Swimming Championships in Kansas.
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- Dr. Sam Freas Passes, Leaving A Lengthy Legacy