Sam Morgan Coaching
13 years of experience coaching and providing lessons to children and adults
8 years of one-on-one coaching using Trainingpeaks
30+ athletes coached through their first half or full Ironman
2nd overall finisher at the 2013 world sprint championships
4th overall finisher (a junior athlete) at the USAT Age Group Sprint Championships
1st overall finisher of Ironman Florida 2016 (Who is also racing Kona in 2017).
Non-swimmer to half Ironman in 2 months (I wouldn’t recommend this heh)
Non-swimmer to full Ironman in 5 months
The first time I can recall instructing somebody else to do something athletic was when I was 14 working as an aide teaching summer swim lessons for the American Red Cross. I didn’t even get paid when I was 14 – it was like an apprenticeship so I could be guaranteed a job teaching lessons (and life guarding) when I turned 15 for the whopping sum of $5.25 an hour. I continued to teach lessons for the next 3 summers until I went to college. I was mostly working with very young children (4 and 5 years old) but I did do some stroke work with some of the older kids.
I didn’t do any instructing of any kind in college, rather I was the one learning from a new set of swim coaches and my teammates. This was also when there came to be more “sports stuff” on the internet and I could read about what others were doing in the pool. I can’t say I learned a lot about swim technique in college (I did get good at kicking though – I was terrible before), but I did learn a lot about working hard and what it takes to try to realize your genetic potential in a given activity.
After college in 2007 I started coaching a small summer league swim team (up to about 100 kids mostly 6 to 8 years old) and I continued to do that for 5 summers. It was during this time period I got in to the sport of triathlon, started reading a ton of books (for my own benefit), and I gave some swim lessons to some adults. It took me a while to find my stride teaching adults to swim. I’d estimate I’ve taught over 500 children to swim, about 40 adults how to swim (from scratch), and I’ve worked on technique with another 80 to 100 adults in a private lesson setting. I’ve had hundreds come to the swim practices I’ve coached for Atlanta Triathlon Club since November 2014.
During the 2015 – 2016 collegiate swim season I went back to my Alma-mater Georgia Tech to do a year of assistant swim coaching for them. I wanted to work with some higher level swimmers, observe the coaching techniques of the Georgia Tech coaches, and decide if college coaching was something I wanted to pursue. I learned a lot from that experience and it caused me to change my triathlete’s swim workouts slightly (less drills, more tough intervals). I also learned I probably didn’t want to coach in college because the coaching is intertwined with office work where you typically have to wear pants and I’m just not a big fan of wearing pants. In all seriousness though I wanted to focus on coaching and minimize office work so I decided coaching swimming in college or being the head coach of an age-group swim program was not for me and I would stick with working with triathletes. If triathlon continues to grow as a collegiate sport I might look at college coaching again.
In 2009 after being coached for about a year my coach and the owner of the Sport Factory suggested I should consider coaching as well since I seemed to have the aptitude and the right skill set for it. I had success in all the swim coaching I did before and I had no reason to believe that triathlon coaching would not go well for me also. I first got my USA Cycling level III certificate that allowed me to start taking clients then, later in 2009 I went to the USAT Level 1 clinic in Austin, TX to get that certification as well.
At first coaching was a side-job. My main income came from working as a commercial photographer for ProSwimVisuals and from coaching summer league swimming to kids. Even so, at my peak in 2012 I was coaching a load of 18 athletes (mostly triathletes, but a few cyclists as well). I did a lot of that coaching from Thailand as well. 18 is a bit more than is comfortable and I decided a good coaching load is about 14 athletes or fewer.
So why was I coaching from Thailand in 2012? Early that year I had an opportunity to work on an Indian film called “Student of the Year” by working for an American company “Reel Sports” which does second-unit production for sports sequences in films. The movie was to have a triathlon and soccer sequence in it so I was brought over to be a Technical Adviser for Triathlon for the film. Most of my time was spent getting the actors ready to swim on camera. In real life the slowest swimmer was a ~ 90 pound girl. In the movie she was the fastest swimmer. I also did other things like create the “playbook” for the sports sequences which is like a screenplay but just for sports (no dialogue). I also helped the actors get through some very tough days of shooting biking and running in the extremely hot and humid jungles of Thailand (literal jungle).
It was during that trip that I realized I was much better at coaching than I was at photography. Of course I wasn’t bad at photography – I was extremely good at photographing swimming in a live swim meet environment, I just knew I didn’t have much future in it. Photography paid well and there was a time where I really enjoyed it, but I liked coaching much more. Once I got back in town in April of 2012 it took me about 3 years to fully quit photography and transition into full-time coaching.
Since I’ve coached full-time since 2015 it’s given me time to think about what I might want the rest of my coaching career to look like. I’ve worked with kids and adults and I enjoy coaching both for different reasons. A big change in my life starting in the fall of 2017 is my wife, daughter, and I are hitting the road in a 5th wheel trailer (camper) pulled by a truck and we plan to live on the road for a few years (not exactly how long). During that time I plan to hang around some of the “hotbeds” of triathlon training (Clermont, FL, Boulder, CO, Flagstaff, AZ, Somewhere, CA (not sure yet heh)), work on my online coaching (which ironically is what I’m doing right now since I’m sitting here typing this), and work on my own fitness. I love to ride and run in new places and I’ll get to do that all the time once I hit the road.