One of a number of outstanding performers for Coach Barbara Smith’s powerhouse Lowell High School Girls teams of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Melissa Burns Botto etched her name in the record books as one of the premier freestyle swimmers in school history.
Melissa made a significant impact as a freshman for the Red and Gray in 1990. She scored in 4 events at both the MVC Championships and the North Sectional Championships, placing 1st as part of both the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays at the sectionals. Melissa also scored in 3 events at the Massachusetts State Championships.
During her sophomore year (1991), Melissa placed in 4 events at all 3 post-season championship meets–MVC Championships (where Lowell won the team championship), North Sectional and Massachusetts State Championships. The LHS Sportsmanship award winner, Melissa won Lowell Sun All-Star and MVC All-Conference honors.
As a junior (1992), Melissa again scored in the maximum 4 events at the 3 post-season championships–-MVC, North Sectional, and States. She was named as the Raider’s’ MVP and Coaches Award winner. Additionally, she again earned Lowell Sun All-Star and MVC All-Conference honors.
As a senior team Captain, Melissa culminated her career in grand fashion, again placing in 4 events at the 3 post-season championship meets, earning 1 gold, 2 silver, and 7 bronze medals combined in those meets. Melissa was again named team MVP and again won Lowell Sun All-Star and MVC All-Conference honors. Finally, she was named to the Boston Globe All-Scholastic team. Melissa left LHS as a school record holder in the 100 freestyle, the 200 freestyle relay (then a North Sectional record), and the 400 freestyle relay.
After graduation, Melissa competed for the University of Pittsburgh from 1994–1998. As a member of the Panther swim team, Melissa regularly scored in dual meets, including numerous 1st place finishes and also scored valuable points in the Big East Championship Meet.
During her junior and senior seasons, Melissa earned Big East All-Conference honors, including 3 such honors during her senior campaign, when she served as Pitt’s team Captain. Melissa’s name can be found in the all-time top 20 list at Pitt in 4 different freestyle events, ranging from 50 free to 500 free. Melissa was also a Dean’s List student and a member of the Athletic Director’s Honor List of Academic Achievement at the University of Pittsburgh.
Melissa joins her sister Jennifer Burns Martin (also a standout swimmer and team Captain at both LHS and the University of Pittsburgh) in the Hall of Fame.
UPDATE: Melissa’s brother Christopher W. Burns was also inducted into the LHS Hall of Fame in 2014.
Graduation/Class Year: 1994
LHS Sports Played: Swimming
LHS Sports Coached:
LHS Teacher or Admin:
LHS Sport Captain: yes
College: University of Ptitsburgh
Other Halls of Fame: