In the late 1970s Graham Smith was arguably Canada’s greatest swimmer on the international scene. He joined the national team in 1973 and first made his mark at the 1976 Summer Olympics, where he won a silver medal in the 4x100 metre medley relay, alongside Clay Evans, Gary MacDonald, Steve Pickell, and Bruce Robertson. He also finished fourth in the 100 and 200 metre breaststroke events and fifth in the 400 metre individual medley. His next feat was to lower the world record in the 200 metre individual medley to 2:05.31 in August 1977, which was later bettered by Oleksandr Sydorenko of the Soviet Union in July 1978, and again by Steve Lundquist of the United States less than a month later. Smith would better Lundquist’s mark just over three weeks later, to 2:03.56, while winning gold in the event at the 1978 World Championships, a tournament at which he also captured silver in the 100 metre breaststroke.
Before that, however, Smith had a more important stop, the 1978 Commonwealth Games, where he won a record six gold medals: the 100 and 200 m breaststroke, the 200 and 400 m individual medleys, and the 4x100 m freestyle and medley relays (the former with MacDonald, Bill Sawchuk, and Peter Szmidt and the latter with Sawchuk and the non-Olympians Jay Tapp and Dan Thompson). He accomplished all of this in Edmonton’s Donald Smith Pool, named after his father who died in 1976, shortly after the younger Smith’s appearance at the Olympics. For his achievements that year he received the Lionel Conacher Award and the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top male and overall athlete respectively.
Smith entered the University of California, Berkeley after the Games and won gold at the 1977 Summer Universiade in the 100 and 200 m breaststroke events. His final major international tournament was the 1979 Pan American Games, where he earned silver in the 4x100 m medley relay (alongside Pickell, Sawchuk, and Thompson) and the 200 m individual medley (behind Jesse Vassallo of the United States, who broke Smith’s world record in the process) and bronze in the 100 m breaststroke. After skipping a year of school to train for the 1980 Summer Olympics, he was denied a chance to participate by Canada’s boycott of those Games. He retired from active competition in 1982 and worked as a coach for several years before obtaining an MBA from St. Mary's College of California. As of 2013 he owns a consulting firm in British Columbia. He was inducted into Canada’s Sports and the Canadian Aquatic Halls of Fame in 1986.