After a decade of national prominence and two trips to the Olympics in which she won three gold medals, Melissa Belote of Springfield, Va., said today she will retire from swimming after the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for women championships end Saturday.
"I wanted to go out with my team," Arizona State, said the 22-year-old senior, majoring in communications. She helped the Sun Devils win two national swim championships.
"About a month and a half ago I finally decided to make the AIAW meet the last one," she said. "I was literally going to pieces about it."
Belote has not firmly decided on future plans, although some contact with swimming is definite. Possibilities include a position with the State Department in international athletics.
At 15, Belote won three gold medals at the Munich Olympics, the best performance of any woman there. She was overshadowed by Mark Spitz's seven first-place medals and the Israeli massaere, which occurred the same night she won her third gold.
In the 1976 games in Montreal, Belote finished fifth in the 200-meter backstroke, setting an American record.
The University of Florida slipped into a narrow lead over Stanford and Arizona State tonight.
Renee Laravie led the Gators with an AIAW record in the 100-yard breaststroke, winning in 1:03.31. Florida had 357 1/2 points while first-day leader Stanford dropped to third at 349. Defending champion Arizona State was second with 351.
Stanford's Linda Jezek completed a backstroke double, winning the 100-yard event in an AIAW record of 55.69. She won the 200 backstroke Thursday.
Belote, swimming her last competitive backstroke race, finished sixth in 58.67.
Houston's Diane Johannigman successively defended her 200-yard butterfly title, pulling away from Betsy Rapp and Joan Pennington over the last 25 yards. Johannigman was timed in 1:59.43, Pennington in 1:59.72 and Rapp, a freshman at Florida from Alexandria, Va., was third in 1:53.9.
Two other swimmers from Alexandria placed in the 50-yard freestyle. Beth Harrell of North Carolina State was sixth in 23.95 while Charlotte Hamilton of South Carolina was 11th in 24.11.