Phil started his career at an early age for coach “Bud” Latham at the Providence Central Boys’ Club.  At one time he was New England A.A.U. Champion in the 200 yard, 400 yard, and 500 yard freestyle events.  Phil’s most memorable victory was in 1938, when he broke a New England record held for 4 years by still another Hall of Fame Inductee – Harold Stanhope – in the 500 freestyle event.

He competed for Hope High School in the Brown Interscholastic Swim meet and New England High School Championship meet, setting records in the 200 and 400 yard freestyle events.

Phil was awarded a swimming scholarship to Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania after graduating from Hope High.  At that time Mercersburg was the top Prep School in the nation in swimming.  He returned from Mercersburg to defend is New England 300 individual medley title, touching out Brown University ace, George Gibbons, and the Pawtucket star Andy Dimant – again all three beating the existing record set the year before by Phil.  He entered Brown University in 1040, and became a star on the Freshman swimming team.

With the start of WWII, Phil entered the Army Air Force.  He was shot down while flying in combat over Germany, and was a prisoner of war for three years.  His times just before leaving for the service, qualified him for the 1940 Olympics, cancelled because of the war.