Irma (Schoennauer) Cole (born as Irmgard Ida Ottilie Schoennauer; January 15, 1920 – November 6, 2003) was one of the United States’s premier swimmers in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Born in Seattle, Washington, she was the daughter and eldest child of Chicago native, Arthur Charles John Schoennauer, and Prussian immigrant, Ida Amalia Ottilie Welk. Irma’s father was a career typesetter employed by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for most of his life; her mother was a seamstress and clothing designer. As a teen, Irmgard attended Lincoln High School in Seattle, and graduated from the University of Washington in 1942 with a BA degree in Communications. As a freshman, she was a member of "Chi of Phrateres," a philanthropic-social organization for female college students at the University.
Born the year female swimmers became the first American women to achieve full Olympic status, Irma began her competitive swimming career as a child at Green Lake in Seattle, having local swimming