He started to compete in open water swims doing the youth races at the La Jolla Roughwater about 1970. During his five summers as a beach lifeguard for San Diego City, he started competing in lifeguard races and other open water swims, which he has kept doing with great regularity over the years. An age-group swimmer and water polo player in his youth, one of his college swim coaches at Pomona College was Penny Dean, the English Channel and Catalina Channel record holder.
Ireland has done a lot of open water races in locations ranging from California, Hawaii, Bermuda, Fiji, Oregon, Ohio, Florida, New York, Maryland, Texas, New Jersey, South Carolina, St. Croix, Mexico, the Cayman Islands, Massachusets, Illinois, Australia, and Nevada. He has a medium/large collection of Maui Channel towels (12 at last count, and unlike Lou Caron, a 100% Towel Rate), an even larger collection of race t-shirts, and has in over 40 years of racing, won two or three races. His biggest victory was selecting a year to do the Boston Lighthouse Swim when no one who was faster than he was competing. Ireland has also circumnavigated Liberty Island, and Governor's Island, which total less than 3 miles between them, and competed in the 10 km race in the 2012 Swim Across America Long Beach event.
In 2011, he was part of the Aquaboomers Over 50 Men's Catalina Relay, together with Brad Magit, Dan Leonard, Tracy Edwards, Bruce Thomas and Steve Lowe, who crossed in world record setting time of 8 hours 8 minutes. Later that year, he did the Bondi to Bronte swim in Sydney, NSW, and was 76th of over 1900 swimmers.
In 2012, he won the SPMS Open Water Series held in Southern California and the 8-mile Boston Light Swim in Massachusetts in 2004 as well as participated in the inaugural 28-mile (45 km) Kaiwi Channel Swim between the islands of Molokai and Oahu in Hawaii on 24 August 2013.
Reason for Swimming
"Swimming helps me to stay more focused, energetic and relaxed. If I don’t get a chance to swim or get some form of exercise, I’m pretty miserable company. I also have a lot of friends from swimming, which is hard to explain to people who don’t swim. It’s not hard to explain that I have friends—it’s hard to explain why it’s fun to swim with others—and hard to swim by myself."
One of my favorite swim stories is the first time I did the Waikiki Roughwater Swim. I’d reached the second and final turn buoy. I was being hit in both sides of the head by two swimmers—and I realized that I recognized both of them. I had Pat Dixon, a long-time swimming friend hitting me on one side, and Parks Wesson, another long time swimming friend hitting me on the other side. Both are guys I train with regularly. I realized that we probably could have stayed home, had the same experience and saved some money. But I was still glad we had gone. Both beat me to the finish by the way—something that happens with some regularity.
Southern Pacific Masters Swimming Open Water Series
The SPMS Open Water Series is a 10-race series for registered swimmers of Southern Pacific Masters Swimming in Southern California.
2012 Series Schedule
1. Seal Beach Rough Water Swim, 1 mile
2. Seal Beach Rough Water Swim, 3 miles
3. Semana Nautica, 6 miles
4. Balboa to Newport Pier-to-Pier, 2 miles
5. Nadadores Rough Water Swim at Salt Creek, 2.4 mile
6. OptimisSport Distance Swim Challenge, 1.2 mile swim
7. OptimisSport Distance Swim Challenge, 2.4 mile swim
8. Don Burns Corona del Mar Swim, 1 mile
9. Slam the Dam at Lake Mead, 1.2 mile loop
10. Slam the Dam at Lake Mead, 2.4 mile loop
2012 Series Winners
19-24 years: Carri Cook
25-29 years: Lexie Kelly
30-34 years: Jessica Krick
35-39 years: Tanya MacLean
40-44 years: Vanessa Mesia
45-49 years: Melissa Latt
50-54 years: Lynn Kubasek
55-59 years: Veronica Hibben
60-64 years: Carol Hayden
2013 Kaiwi Channel Swim
Ireland participated in the relay called The Veterans that won the 28-mile channel crossing across the Ka'iwi Channel between Kepuhi Beach on Molokai and Sandy Beach on Oahu in 9 hours 53 minutes together with Karen Schmidt, Amy Dantzler, Brent Blackman, Bruce Thomas, and Dianne Gleason.
- Southern California Open Water Swimming Stars
- SPMS Open Water Series
- Daily News of Open Water Swimming
- Southern Pacific Masters Open Water Series Champions
- Bill Ireland, Mild-mannered Open Water Swimmer
- Open Water Swimming
- Aquaboomers Across The Catalina Channel
- A Mid-Winter Classic, The Acapulco 5k Internacional
- Self-serve Station At USMS Championships In Las Vegas
- Eric Nilsson Faces Wind, Whitecaps To Win Boston Light Swim
- Ka'iwi Channel Swim, Ready For An Epic Undertaking
- Ka'iwi Channel Swim
- 28 or 45, Either Way Channel Of Bones Is Extremely Tough
- Aloha! Kaiwi Channel Swim Underway
- World Open Water Swimming Association
- Wikiwiki Swimming At The Inaugural Ka'iwi Channel Swim
- It Was SO VERY Close Throughout The Kaiwi Channel Swim