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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Melissa first appeared
on the national swimming scene at the age of 12 when she qualified
for her first United States National
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
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
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
coaching age group swimming
Four time All-American
for Arizona State University
Six time National
Collegiate Champion for Arizona State
Olympian (1972 &
Three-time Olympic Gold
Medalist (World, Olympic and American Record
World Champion 1973
– 200 m Backstroke
Runner-up (1972 & 1973) - Top Amature Athlete in
Broderick Award for
Outstanding Women's Collegiate Swimmer (1977)
Newspaper - Women Athlete of the Year (1977 &
Inducted into the
Arizona State University Athletic Hall of Fame
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
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.
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!"
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 14 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 Development Team Director from predecessor Bob Chen, who moved on to the Competitive Team. He continues to run practices at the San Tan location for the Development 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 10 years. They have 2 sons; 7 year old Kyler, who just started Second Grade this past Fall and swims in the Development 1 Group at San Tan and their youngest son, Teagan, who is a 4 year old swimming in the Sea Lion Class at EVO. They also have a daughter, named Maleah, age 2, that keeps mom and dad on their toes. As much as Patrick enjoys his work in and around the pool, what he truly enjoys is spending time with his family.
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.