Stephen began competitive swimming, at the age of 8, in the Narragansett Swim League. At age 12 he won the Rhode Island Junior Boys’ Swimming championship in the 50 yard breaststroke, and the 100 yard butterfly championship at the Connecticut National Invitational meet. He was named the Rhode Island Junior champion in the 200 yard individual medley and in the 200 yard medley relay by the RI Coaches and Officials Association. At age 13 he was ranked 5th in the nation in the 100 yard breaststroke.

In 1972, he set a meet record in the 100 yard breaststroke in international competition against the Pointe Claire Swim Club of Quebec, Canada. That year he was also named RI junior Swim Champion in the 100 yard breaststroke, the 200 yard medley relay, and the 100 yard butterfly.

The New England Chapter of the National Swimming Pool Institute awarded Stephen an Outstanding Swimmer citation and he received the National Recognition Award from the RI Swimming Coaches and Officials Association.

Winner of the RI Interscholastic League 100 yard breaststroke championship, and the New England Interscholastic championship in the 100 yard breaststroke, Stephen was named the Swimmer of the Year by the Coaches and Officials Association of RI. He also received the New England Swimming Association’s honor as RI male swimmer of the year.

Stephen was on the RI Interscholastic All State team for two years while swimming at Cumberland High School, was named High School All American in the 100 yard breaststroke in 1974-1975, and was a College All-American in the 200 yard  breaststroke during his senior year at North Carolina State University.