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Irene Zamora, May 2021
Irene Zamora, 38, was born and raised in Madrid, Spain, and currently lives in Charlotte, NC, with her husband Pablo.
She started swimming at a very young age, and soon made it to the national team and travelled the world as a swimmer and a lifesaver. She held national and European records and won gold medals in European and World Championships while she was also attending the Autónoma University of Madrid, where she earned her double bachelor in Early Childhood Education and English as a Foreign Language Education. In addition, Irene earned her Masters Degree in Pedagogy and Education while she was already transitioning to her teaching career. Before officially retiring from her sports career in 2008, she lived in the eastern coast of Australia, where she volunteered as a lifeguard while she improved her swimming and surfing skills.
She has worked in private and charter schools in Madrid, and even volunteered in Ghana, Africa, by helping build a school and training their teachers, and since 2010 holds a teaching position in a school from the Spanish Air Force, where she taught English for three years before moving to the US. Irene has been in education for over 14 years now, first as a teacher in Madrid, North Carolina and Texas, and more recently as an instructional coach in the professional development side of education. She currently works for Participate Learning as a Dual Language Immersion Program Manager, and supports 24 schools and over 120 teachers in Cabarrus and Union County.
While she absolutely loves education and misses her students dearly now that she is not in the classroom on a daily basis, she truly enjoys being able to support so many international teachers since she was once in their shoes. She now swims "just for fun" and definitely doesn't miss the long practices, the muscle soreness, and the chlorine smell stuck in her skin, but she believes that high performance sports have helped her to work hard, collaborate with her team, and definitely pursue her goals without giving up. In her own words, "swimming has made me who I am, and has given me everything I've got. I couldn't be more thankful for it!"