Bill Smith (swimmer)

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Bill Smith
Bill Smith swimmer 1941.jpg
Smith in 1941
Personal information
Full name William Melvin Smith Jr.
Nickname(s) "Bill"
National team  United States
Born (1924-05-16)May 16, 1924
Honolulu, Hawaii
Died February 8, 2013(2013-02-08) (aged 88)
Honolulu, Hawaii
Sport Swimming
Strokes Freestyle
College team Ohio State University

William Melvin Smith Jr. (May 16, 1924 – February 8, 2013) was an American former competition swimmer, two-time Olympic champion, and a former world record-holder in four events. He was one of the most successful competitive swimmers in the United States in the first half of the 20th century.

Smith was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, of mixed Irish and Hawaiian ancestry. He attended Ohio State University, and competed for the Ohio State Buckeyes swimming and diving team within the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).[1] As a college swimmer, he was undefeated in three years of dual meet competition, and was a four-time All-American. He set seven world records and won fourteen U.S. national championships: seven NCAA, six AAU indoor and one AAU outdoor.

At the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, England, Smith won gold medals in the 400-meter freestyle and 4×200-meter freestyle relay.[2] At one time, Smith held all of the world records in freestyle swimming events between 200 and 1,000 meters.

After retiring from competitions Smith became captain of the surf guards at Waikiki Beach, coached swimmers at the University of Hawaii, and served as safety director for the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation for 25 years. He also coached masters swimmers at the Kamehameha Swim Club.[2][1]

Smith was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1966.[3] In 2001 he was named Ohio State University's swimmer of the century by the Columbus Touchdown Club. He died February 8, 2013; he was 88 years old.[2][4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bill Smith, The Greatest Swimmer of His Era, Passes Away. International Swimming Hall of Fame
  2. ^ a b c, Olympic Sports, Athletes, Bill Smith. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
  3. ^ International Swimming Hall of Fame, Honorees, Bill Smith (USA). Retrieved March 14, 2015.
  4. ^ Dave Reardon (February 13, 2013). "Quick Reads: Hawaii swimming legend Bill Smith passes," Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Retrieved March 14, 2013.
Preceded by

Jack Medica
Men's 400-meter freestyle
world record-holder (long course)

May 13, 1941 – September 12, 1947
Succeeded by

Alexandre Jany
Preceded by

Shozo Makino
Men's 800-meter freestyle
world record-holder (long course)

July 24, 1941 – June 26, 1949
Succeeded by

Hironoshin Furuhashi
Preceded by

Jack Medica
Men's 200-meter freestyle
world record-holder (long course)

February 12, 1944 – September 20, 1946
Succeeded by

Alexandre Jany