Lee Bound for the Classroom

17 May 2021
Chelsea Gubecka, Kareena Lee and Bianca Crisp

In celebration of National Careers Week, which aims to recognise careers and personal development, Swimming Australia caught up with some of its Dolphins to learn more about their study, careers and ambitions outside of the pool.


Kareena Lee, Dolphin #753


Kareena Lee’s ultimate goal of reaching the Olympic Games is only months away from becoming a reality, but the 27-year-old has worked hard behind the scenes to have her life after swimming set.

The Queenslander has future aspirations to become a primary school teacher after graduating from the University of the Sunshine Coast in 2019 with a Bachelor’s degree in Primary Education.

Lee, who has successfully qualified for the Women’s 10km Marathon open water event in Tokyo, says she can’t wait to have a primary school class of her own once she hangs the goggles up.

“After I finish swimming, I just want to dive into the classroom and start teaching – having my own class, that would be so awesome,” Lee said.

“I think it’s really important because we’re stuck in this big routine when we’re a swimmer and then suddenly it’s [going to be] gone. 

“It’s so important to have something to fall back on and another passion to follow and that’s what I did,” she added.

Kareena Lee World Champs 10km 2019
Lee competes at the 2019 World Open Water Swimming Championships.


Lee highlighted the importance of having a plan for after she hangs up the goggles, revealing she found great joy in gaining a Bachelor’s degree alongside her swimming commitments.

“I find it really important to have something like a backup [career]. I’m not always going to be able to be a swimmer, so I wanted to set my career up whilst I was still swimming.

“I do believe that it was actually one of my proudest achievements to graduate whilst being a professional athlete.”

Lee revealed that primary school teaching wasn’t her first career choice. The open water swimmer initially found an interest in exercise and sports science before realising her ambitions to become a teacher while working as a learn to swim instructor at the Noosa Swimming Club.

“I did put quite a bit of pressure on myself just to try and get a career started when I finished school.

“I didn’t really put too much thought into what I actually wanted to do so I just kind of thought sport and exercise science, but I realised that wasn’t really the path for me.

“Whilst I was studying, I was also helping out at my swim club and I was doing a bit of learn to swim teaching as well and I kind of felt a passion around teaching and helping out kids and everything.

“That’s kind of where it started and then studying it and doing pracs, I fell in love with it.

“I’m hoping to straight after the Olympics try and get some relief teaching in just to keep those skills up.”

For more information on National Career's Week, click here.


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