Patterson was a member of Arthur Hill High School ’s swim team from 1943-45 and earned All-America honors three times. In 1944, he set a record while winning the state championship in the 100-yard backstroke. In 1945 he broke his own record and was once again named an All-American. Patterson also swam on Arthur Hill’s 200 and 400-yard freestyle relay teams which both won the state championship and recorded the fastest time in the nation. Patterson swam at Michigan State College from 1946-50. In 1946 he broke the 150-yard backstroke record at the Big Ten championship meet and set a national collegiate freshman record in the 300-yard medley relay. In 1948 he became the first person from Saginaw to qualify for the United States Olympic team by finishing third in the l00-meter backstroke. At the London Olympic Games he placed second in the preliminary heat with a time of 1:09.3 but failed to place in the semifinals of the 100-meter backstroke. The five-time collegiate All-American was the conference champion in the 150-yard backstroke while setting a conference and national collegiate record in winning the 100-yard backstroke during a league meet. Patterson, a two-time NCAA backstroke champion, was elected into the Arthur Hill Letterwinner’s Hall of Fame in 1965 and is a member of the Saginaw Swimming Hall of Fame.