Ralph started his swimming career under Ed Mongeon, at the Pawtucket Boys’ Club in 1936.

His first outstanding accomplishment came at the age of 13, when he placed in the National Swimming Meet of the Boys’ Club of America.  As a Boys’ Club swimmer he set two national records; in the 50 yard freestyle and 100 yard freestyle.

During this period, Ralph won numerous A.A.U., State, and New England Championship events in freestyle competition.  While swimming for Max Read at Pawtucket High School from 1939 to 1942, Ralph was undefeated in the 50 and 100 yard freestyle events in the state, New England, and National High School competition.  This included wins in the New England High School Championship meet and the Brown Interscholastic meet; as well as the National Interscholastic  Championships.

As a high school sophomore, he ranked among the top 10 high school swimmers in the nation.  As a junior he ranked in the top 3 of the nation, and as a senior at Pawtucket High Ralph ranked #1 in the nation.  As a closing feat to his brilliant high school career, Ralph defended his national freestyle record, and in doing, set a new national record for a long course pool.

Ralph held the Pawtucket High School record for 27 years!

He entered Brown University in 1942, swimming for coach Leo Barry, and he starred for one year – his career cut short by the war.  Ralph spent three years overseas in the Pacific Theatre.  This eliminated his opportunity to make an Olympic team, as the games were cancelled during the war years.

Ralph resumed his career at Brown after the war, and set a New England Intercollegiate record in the sprint events under Joe Watmough, who was the new coach at Brown after the war.  Ralph graduated in 1949.