Tara Shima graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where she swam competitively and earned Academic Scholar each year she participated. She worked for years as a lifeguard for the State Beaches of California in San Clemente. After graduation, she taught kindergarten at Castle Heights Elementary School and worked on her Masters at Cal Poly Pomona. She went on to Pasadena City College where she worked for five years. During her time at PCC, she was invited to be the assistant coach at SMC. She accepted this position and spent her time commuting between the schools for two years. Today, she teaches at SMC and is the head coach for Crossroads High School here in Santa Monica.