Melissa Belote was born in Washington, D.C. She grew up in Springfield, Virginia, was a member of the Springfield Swim and Racquet Club, and attended Robert E. Lee High School in Fairfax County, Virginia. Melissa was committed to swimming and demonstrated a tremendous work ethic.
At 15 years old, she won three gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany. In the women’s 100-meter Backstroke, Belote defeated her American teammate and world-record holder Susie Atwood. In the women’s 200-meter Backstroke, Belote set a new world record of 2:19.19. She won a third gold medal by swimming the lead-off Backstroke leg for the winning U.S. team in the women’s 4×100-meter Medley Relay. She and her teammates Cathy Carr (Breaststroke), Deena Deardurff (Butterfly), and Sandy Neilson (Freestyle) set a new world record of 4:20.75 in the relay final.
She attended Arizona State University, where she swam for the Arizona State Sun Devils swimming and diving team in Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) competition. She received the Honda Sports Award for Swimming and Diving, recognizing her as the outstanding college female swimmer of the year in 1976–77.
She retired from the sport in 1979, and was inducted in the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1983. She was also inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1989.
She has spent the past 37 years coaching swimming. She currently coaches swimming and diving at McClintock High School in Tempe, Arizona, and coaches the Rio Salado Club Swim Team.
Melissa has always remained committed to her sport, and her biggest impact has been on two generations of youth who she coached in the pool. Melissa’s coaching style, and her expectations develop the whole person and engrain valuable life skills in all the children she has worked with. It is this commitment to the community and to the development of healthy youth that has led to Melissa’s recent accolades such as guest of honor, and speaker at the Golden Goggles, and now a scholarship fund to ensure her legacy lives on, and that others recognize her contribution to the community.