Bill Smith swam for the Alexander House Community Association Team in Wailuku, Maui as a high school student and then attended The Ohio State University. At the 1942 AAU Meet Smith won the 200, 400, and 800 metre titles, breaking the world record in the 440 yard freestyle with a time of 4:39.6 that shattered the previous mark set by Johnny Weissmuller. Smith’s career was interrupted by Naval service during World War II, but he won 15 AAU Championships in his career, adding seven NCAA titles by winning the 220 free in 1943, 1947-49, and the 440 free from 1947-49. Smith was nominated for the Sullivan Award six times, finishing second three times.
Following his graduation from Ohio State he became captain of the surf guards at Waikiki Beach, coached swimming at the University of Hawaii and was water safety director for the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation for 25 years, responsible for Oahu’s lifeguard program. He also coached age group swimmers for many years, near the end of his career at the Kamehameha Swim Club. In 2001 Bill Smith was named Ohio State University’s swimmer of the century by the Columbus Touchdown Club.