Bill Ford’s contribution to open water swimming stretches back more than 25 years, a period that saw the sport added to the World Aquatics Championships (Perth, Australia in 1991) and Olympics  (Beijing, People's Republic of China in 2008) competition programmes. During this time, Ford has held a multitude of sporting roles at the community, national and international level. These include being a World Aquatics Open Water Swimming Referee, World Aquatics Officials Trainer, and a mentor to many of those coming up through the open water swimming ranks. Ford is responsible for the development of the World Aquatics Rules for Open Water Swimming and helping lead the development of the sport’s officials’ training materials.

Noting the importance Bill Ford has had on the open water swimming community – and by extension, the greater aquatics world – World Aquatics President Husain Al-Musallam was joined by Matt Dunn, President of Oceania Aquatics in honouring Ford in front of his family with the 2023 Dennis Miller Award at the opening of the 2024 Oceania Championships at Australia's Gold Coast on 22 April.

Image Source: John West/World Aquatics

On receiving the award, Bill Ford said:

“The presentation of World Aquatics’ memorial “Dennis Miller Award” is an unexpected honour made all the more memorable due to World Aquatics’ President, Captain Husain Al Musallam and Second Vice President and President of Swimming Oceania, Matthew Dunn presenting the award to me in the presence of Dennis’ wife, Glynis and his son, Chad and other representatives of Swimming Oceania family.

“I’m honoured and humbled to receive this prestigious award. Dennis Miller was a dear friend and wonderful mentor.

“To be included with the other recipients of this award is another rare privilege for which I’m most grateful.”

Image Source: Open water swimming made its debut at the World Aquatics Championships in 1991 in Perth, Australia (Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Named in honour of Dennis Miller – the former World Aquatics Vice-President and Oceania Swimming Association President – the award was inaugurated in 2021 and is presented annually to a person or organisation that made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of World Aquatics Open Water Swimming activities over many years. Ford joins inaugural Dennis Miller Awards winner Sid Cassidy of the United States in 2021 and John West of New Zealand in 2022 with the highest global honour a sports administrator can receive in open water swimming.