One of the first truly outstanding swimmers at Washington and Lee was Billy Ball '69. Ball, who was also a two-year letterwinner in track and field, was named W&L's Oustanding Freshman Athlete in 1966 and four years later completed his stellar career by being named the Pres Brown Outstanding Senior Athlete in 1969.
A versatile swimmer who starred in several events, Ball made an immediate impact upon arrival at W&L. He set several school records and was named the outstanding swimmer at the 1966 College Athletic Conference championship meet. The following year he was named as W&L's Outstanding Swimmer and in 1968 helped lead the Generals to the CAC Championship.
Ball saved the best for last, enjoying a standout senior season. After winning five gold medals at the 1969 CAC championships, Ball qualified for the NCAA College Division Swimming Championships. Ball made the most of his appearance, earning All-America honors with a sixth-place finish in the 100-yard backstroke and a ninth-place finish in the 200-yard backstroke. Ball and teammate Bill Brumback became W&L's first All-America swimmers at the 1969 championship meet, setting a standard of excellence that has been a goal for W&L swimmers ever since.
Over Ball's four years, the Generals won nearly three-quarters of their dual meets with a record of 27 victories against just 10 defeats. Ball's son, Butler (Class of 1996), followed him to W&L and was an all-conference football player for the Generals in 1995 and son Christopher (2000) and daughter Sallie (2001) also came to W&L. His sister, Catie, was a gold medalist in the 400 Medley Relay at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.