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tBBC Making The List: William “Bill” Smith

Discussion in 'News' started by jcollingsworth, Jun 24, 2016.

  1. Making The List: William “Bill” Smith
    via our good friends at Buckeye Battle Cry
    Visit their fantastic blog and read the full article (and so much more) here

    There are many routes we could take this week for Making the List. But summer’s sweltering heat has me thinking of a pool, or more specifically, swimming. I previously mentioned two Great Buckeyes in the swimmers category, Yoshi Oyakawa, and legendary coach Mike Pepe. I do know that the Buckeyes had many great swimmers in their history, and I should acknowledge them, one which was William “Bill” Smith. Bill swam for The Ohio State University in 1943, interrupted by WWII; he’d come back and swim for the Buckeyes in 1947-49.

    At the age of 11 he suffered from typhoid. His father began to take him to the beach to swim in hopes of his boy recovering. He would do this for years thereafter – improving each day; religiously going to the beach, with or without his father, to aid in building his strength.

    He would meet up with the legendary Coach Soichi Sakamoto – and the rest is history.

    Bill headed to The Ohio State University in 1942, just as the USA was entering into WWII for the bombing of Pearl Harbor, near his home in Hawaii. He was not initially eligible to participate in NCAA sports as a freshman, yet he still succeeded at setting seven world records and two American records at AAU events. While at OSU, his teammates called him “The Whale” because of his size – weighing in at 215 pounds.

    Smith’s swimming career at OSU was cut short by World War II as he would enter the U.S. Navy – serving four years. When he returned to The Ohio State University, there was speculation as to how well he would do returning to a sport that required tremendous practice and deduction – given the long absence from the water. In 1948, though, Smith would be heading to the 1948 London Olympic Games, where he won gold medals in the 400-meter freestyle race and the 4×200-meter freestyle relay. After his victories, University of Michigan Swim Coach Matt Mann was quoted as saying “Some guys can swim the greatest race of his life but ‘Smitty’ will always do just a little better.”

    By the time Smith earned his degree in Education in 1950, he had captured seven NCAA titles and 15 AAU Championships. Smith was selected for The Ohio State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1977 and named The Ohio State University Swimmer of the Century in 2001.

    The determination and dedication that Bill Smith displayed throughout his life is enviable. It was not only in his love for the sport of swimming and diving that generated his masterful talents, but that of life. He once replied many years after retiring competitively from the sport he so loved, “Life is like a swim. You hit an unwelcoming wave, or just have an off day. What makes the two the same is how you face that snag. You buckle up, take a deep breath, and jump back into the pool, be it water or life, and just do it. You will never fail with this idea etched in your heart, mind, and soul. God will assure you of that. When life is easy there’s nothing to smile about. When there are snags to overcome the smiles are real and broader” William “Bill” Smith is a rare Buckeye. He was determined, dedicated, and the best at his sport. What made him rare was that he probably did not even know just how great he was. He was just “Bill”.

    The post Making The List: William “Bill” Smith appeared first on The Buckeye Battle Cry: Ohio State News and Commentary.

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