Our Coaching Staff

We are here to support your needs. If your questions are related to workouts, meets, events, goal setting, and other swimming related needs, please contact one of the coaches. For all questions related to administrative, such as dues, safety, or policy issues, please contact David Tait, our Club Director.

Coaching Staff

David Tait

Club Director


RIO Salado Swim Club is owned and operated by David Tait. David was an accomplished athlete in the sport of swimming. In his career he was a 3-time state champion and former state record holder, a Junior National Champion, a Senior National qualifier, and a competitor at the 2000 US Olympic Trials. David coached a number of high school athletes to the State, Junior National, and National levels and took one athlete to the 2008 Olympic Trials. He has over 2 decades of experience teaching children, teenagers, and adults how to swim. His real passion is helping kids learn how to swim and enjoy a sport that has brought him a lifetime of rewarding experiences. David's expertise has benefited children and adults of all ages and all levels of aquatic participation.

Together with David’s professionally trained staff, the RIO Salado Swim Club prides itself on developing the "total athlete."  They believe each swimmer has an opportunity to use the sport to learn the skills necessary for a successful life, while having fun and swimming fast at the same time.  Physical, mental, emotional, and social traits are all aspects of their philosophy that help to develop each athlete at every level in swimming to their greatest potential.  They strive to ensure that swimming maintains a bright and respectable future in the world of sports through the development of new training techniques in order to achieve greater and greater levels of human potential.

Bob Chen

Head Coach (AG II & SEN III)


Bob Chen began swimming competitively at the age of 11, and within 6 months, achieved his first National Reportable Top 16 (NRT) in the 200 yd breaststroke. He continued competing until his senior year of high school; throughout his brief career he achieved NRT’s in multiple age groups and events, while qualifying for US Sectionals, NCSA Junior Nationals, and Far Westerns. He is a former national record holder as a member of the PC Swimming's 11-12 boys 400 yd medley relay, and also the current meet record holder in the 13-14 200 yd I.M. at RIO’s own Lost Dutchman Invitational. A 2006 Scholastic All-American and 2008 graduate of Fremont, CA’s Irvington High School, Bob was the former Director of Pre-Comp Operations for RIO and Head Coach at the Hamilton site. During his time at RIO, he has overseen the growth of the Pre-Comp program to over 500 swimmers spanning 4 locations. He moved up to assist with the Competitive Team in April of 2014.

Upon graduating high school, Bob attended San Jose State University for 1 year as a political science and philosophy double major before moving to Chandler, AZ. During his short stay at SJSU, Bob was a part of the university’s Associated Student Body, working in the public relations division.

Starting at the age of 14, Bob worked as an swim instructor during the summer for SwimAmerica. By the end of his junior year in high school, he was also coaching the summer league team at the Ohlone College campus. Bob began his tenure with RIO in March of 2010, as an assistant pre-competitive coach at the Hamilton site before taking over the location that June.

In August 2013, Bob began his first year as Head Swim & Dive Coach at Basha High. During his inaugural season, the Men's Varsity Team went undefeated (7-0) in dual meets, and placed 6th overall at the Arizona H.S. State Championships. Combined, the Men and Women's Teams set 16 out of a possible 22 team records in one season. He also had two graduating seniors from the Women's Varsity Team sign National Letters of Intent to continue their careers in college.

Melissa Ripley

Head Age Group Coach (CJ, AG I & SEN I)


Melissa Belote was born on October 16, 1956 in Washington D.C. and grew up in Springfield, Virginia. She has been called one of America's greatest swimmers. Melissa is the middle child of Florence and Buddy Belote. She has two sisters, Barbara and Jenny.
Melissa first appeared on the national swimming scene at the age of 12 when she qualified for her first United States National Championship.
In 1972, Melissa won both the 100 and 200 meter Backstroke at the United States Olympic Trials and set a world record in the 200 meter Backstroke.
Later that year at the Summer Games in Munich, Germany, Melissa led the women's American Swim Team as she won three Gold Medals. She placed first in the 100 meter Backstroke, setting an Olympic and American record. She finished first in the 200 meter Backstroke setting a World, Olympic, and American record. She also swam the lead off leg on the World, Olympic, and American record setting 400 Medley Relay team.
In 1973, Melissa continued her dominance when she won the 200 meter Backstroke at the World Championships.
In 1976, Melissa made her second Olympic team, which competed in Montreal, Canada. Melissa finished fifth in the 200 meter Backstroke, setting a new American record.
From 1970 to 1979, Melissa won 8 AAU Individual National Championships and was a 16 time AAU All-American. She also won 6 individual National Collegiate Swimming Championships and led her college team, Arizona State University to two National Championships. Melissa was a four-year All-American at Arizona State University.
In 1972 and 1973, Melissa was the runner-up for the Sullivan Award, the highest amateur award recognized in the United States. In 1977, she won the Broderick Award as the Outstanding Women's Collegiate Swimmer in America.
Melissa is in the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, the Washington Hall of Stars, the Arizona State University Athletic Hall of Fame, and the International Swimming Hall of Fame. In 1999 Melissa was selected to the United States Swimming “Team of the Century,” as well as, Sports Illustrated top 50 athletes from the state of Virginia, and the Arizona Republic Newspapers top 100 Athletes of Arizona.
Melissa has been involved with swimming, either as a swimmer or coach, since 1965 when she started competing as an 8 year old at her community swim club, Springfield Swim & Racquet Club. In addition to her coaching responsibilities at RIO, Melissa is the Head Swim Coach at McClintock High School.
Melissa is married to Richard A. Ripley and they have two children, Rachel Alexandra (22) and Erik Alexander (20). Rachel recently graduated from the University of Missouri where she swam for 4 years. Erik is a Junior swimming at Towson Univeristy in Maryland.
Melissa Belote Ripley
33 year’s coaching age group swimming
Four time All-American for Arizona State University
Six time National Collegiate Champion for Arizona State University
Olympian (1972 & 1976)
Three-time Olympic Gold Medalist (World, Olympic and American Record holder)
World Champion 1973 – 200 m Backstroke
Sullivan Award Runner-up (1972 & 1973) - Top Amature Athlete in American
Broderick Award for Outstanding Women's Collegiate Swimmer (1977)
Fiesta Bowl All-American (1977)
Arizona Republic Newspaper - Women Athlete of the Year (1977 & 1978)
Inducted into the Arizona State University Athletic Hall of Fame (1981)
Inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame (1983)
Inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame (1989)
Arizona Republic 100 Greatest Arizona Athletes
Sports Illustrated Top 50 Virginia Athletes
USA Swimming - Female 200 Backstroker of the Century
2008 Arizona Swimming Age Group Coach of the Year

Felissa Dixon

Senior Assistant Coach (SEN II)


Felissa Dixon grew up in Arizona.  Upon graduating from high school, she attended Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO and specialized in Breaststroke and IM. She set the team record in the 200 yd Fly and was part of record breaking 200 yd and 400 yd medley relays.
She graduated from Colorado College with a bachelor's degree in math and spent the next year working at CC in the math department, when she also began coaching at a nearby high school.
After realizing her love of teaching, Felissa went back to school to get her Masters of Arts in Education and began teaching high school math in Colorado Springs.  During this time, she continued coaching high school and also began working with the Cheyenne Mountain Aquatics.
After coaching the varsity girls team in a different school district for four years, Felissa was given the opportunity to begin the first high school team in her current school district.  In her first year, she was nominated as Colorado State High School 4A Girls Swim Coach of the Year.
Felissa has now been back in Arizona for four years, coaching and teaching math at McClintock High School in Tempe.  
She just finished her 12th high school season of coaching and has been coaching for RIO since March 2012.

Mandy Schumacher

Age Group Assistant Coach (Age Group II)


Mandy Schumacher was born in the small town of Green River, Wyoming and that is where her love for the sport of swimming began. She joined her club team at age four and eventually continued her athletic career at the collegiate level. As a member of the Green River High School team, Schumacher broke several team and pool records in the small town (200 Free, 500 Free, 200 Medley Relay, 400 Free Relay, 200 IM and 100 Back). Mandy also broke the Wyoming conference record in the 500 Free. By the time she approached her senior year, she knew she wanted to continue swimming in college. Mandy graduated high school as Summa Cum Laude in 2009.  Her aspirations of becoming a college athlete came to fruition when she accepted a scholarship to swim Division I at the University of Wyoming. In college her specialty shifted from a mid-distance freestyler to a mid-distance backstroker. As a college athlete, she learned much about herself as an athlete, a student, and a person.

Although Mandy had many goals in swimming, she was also focused on her academics. Through her work as a swim instructor (during high school), it became clear that working with children is something she loved. In turn, while at the University of Wyoming, Mandy pursued a degree in Elementary Education.  She graduated college in May 2013 and decided it was time to venture out of Wyoming. She traded her snow gloves for sun glasses and accepted a job as a first grade teacher in Page, Arizona. Last year, Mandy moved to Tempe to teach second grade. Mandy says, "The city has been a great change of pace and has provided me with great opportunities (like this one)!  I can’t wait to share my passion for the sport with these young swimmers!"

Patrick Tolson

Development Team Director


Born and raised right here in the East Valley,  Patrick Tolson has been involved with swimming since birth.  He began swimming rec leagues for the City of Mesa at age 5.  He continued with his swimming career at Red Mountain High School in Mesa, where he was a middle distance and sprint freestyler.  In his 2 years with the Mountain Lions, he qualified and competed at the Arizona H.S. State Championships in the 100 and 200 freestyle.  After high school, Patrick attended Northern Arizona University. Whilst in college, he was a volunteer coach for the Flagstaff Snow Sharks.  During his breaks from college at NAU, Patrick coached rec league swimming for the City of Mesa during the summers.  He was the Assistant Coach, and eventually the Head Coach, of two teams during his 9 years with the City of Mesa.

Upon graduation from NAU in 2001 with a degree in Elementary Education, Patrick went on to teach 10 years of Elementary School in Gilbert, primarily First Grade. While still teaching, Patrick began coaching for Mesquite High School in Gilbert.  In his 13 seasons with the Wildcats, his Men’s Team has ranked in the Top 10 in the State of Arizona 6 times. He has overseen many eventual collegiate swimmers and his teams have achieved All-American Honors under his guidance and coaching.

Patrick joinded the RIO staff as the Head Coach of the Gilbert Jr. facility in 2011. Starting in April of 2014, Patrick assumed the role of Director of Pre-Comp Operations from predecessor Bob Chen, who moved on to the Competitive Team. He continues to head the GJHS pool for the Pre-Competitive Team and is also the Head Coach of the RIO Masters Team. Patrick teaches lessons at EVO Swim School multiple times each week and runs private lessons for both children and adults.  

Patrick and his wife Hilary have been married for 8 years. They have 2 sons; 5 year old Kyler, who just started Kindergarten this past Fall and their youngest son, Teagan, who will soon to be 2. They just welcomed new daughter Maleah in Spring of 2014. As much as Patrick enjoys his work in and around the pool, what he truly enjoys is spending time with his family.

Andrea Courtney

Development Team - Hamilton Site Coach


Andrea Courtney was born and raised in Arizona. She started swimming competitively when she was 6 years old in Wray, Colorado, where her grandparents live and continued every summer until she was 17. She graduated from Marcos de Niza High School in 2004 where she swam on the Varsity team for 4 years and also played basketball all 4 years.  Her specialties included 100 back, 50 free, 100 free, and she was also an active member on the relays.  After high school she began coaching at Marcos de Niza for 1 year and then moved over to Corona Del Sol, where she coached for 5 years.  Andrea was the head swim coach at the Tempe Lifetime Fitness for 7 years.  She began her career with RIO in March 2013.  Currently she attending school to earn her degree in Substance Abuse Counseling.