What is Mermaiding?
Every person is unique and has their own passions and hobbies. Some people play music, some love sports, some enjoy nature, and then there are mermaids! It’s a novelty activity that is becoming increasingly popular. Still, some people have never heard of it and will be taken aback when you say “I’m a mermaid!” To some it may sound ridiculous, just like if you were to tell someone that you are a unicorn. They just don’t know what it means. They don’t know the magic of mermaiding and the wonders of being part of a welcoming and whimsical community of people who dress up and swim as mermaids!
Mermaiding is the practice of wearing a mermaid tail and swimming in it. It is done for sport, for fun, for self-expression, for exercise, and even for a career. Mermaiding can bring people together. It’s a very distinct activity and finding someone who shares your interest in mermaids can create a bond unlike any other. There are also many conventions, festivals, and competitions for mermaids to participate in.
There are many reasons people choose to be mermaids. For me, I didn’t choose the mermaid life. The mermaid life chose me! I’m so glad it did because it has enriched my life greatly. Mermaid swimming is great for your physical and mental health, and is a fun activity that makes you feel free and happy. As kids we all try to find magic in the world, and most kids are mystified by mermaids. I remember my mom telling me bedtime stories about mermaids, and I loved to pretend to be a mermaid in pools. If only mermaid tails were around when I was a kid! But it is never too late to become a mermaid. People both young and old become mermaids everyday. Men and women and girls and boys are all welcome to join in on the fun!
Mermaiding for exercise
In general, swimming is a great form of exercise. It is a good cardio workout and since you are weightless in water it is really good for your joints. Running and other exercises can be harmful in excess from the force put on your body when your feet hit the ground. You don’t have that problem with swimming!
Mermaid swimming furthers the workout because you have to rely mainly on your core to swim through the water in a tail. You also will work out your thighs, calves, arms, and glutes. It really is a full body workout! It is also a great cardio workout.
Mermaid swimming involves a swim stroke called the dolphin kick, which is what swimmers use for the butterfly swim stroke. According to Fitday.com, “A 150-pound person burns 748 calories an hour doing the butterfly stroke.”
Mermaiding for sport
Mermaiding is the world’s "most beautiful" underwater sport! It is a combination of technical swimming skills, acrobatic figures, breath holding, artistry and mermaid tail costumes. The main movement is a full body wave called dolphin kick.
As of 2020 mermaiding is now known as a sport. This was made official by the partnering up of USA Artistic Swimming and Aquamermaid. You can take your mermaiding to a competitive level at the World Mermaid Championship and Miss Mermaid International.
Competitions require mastery of specific mermaid swimming skills:
- Dolphin kick proficiency
- Breath holding
- Underwater posing
Mermaid swimming is very similar to the sport artistic swimming in that it incorporates strength, grace, breath hold, and stamina.
Mermaiding for mental health
Imagination plays a big role in brain health. We encourage kids to use their imaginations, and to play pretend, but we don’t realize that it is beneficial even as adults. In a stressful and mundane world, becoming a mermaid can bring you joy and lighten your day!
Why do we read fantasy books and watch movies? It makes us feel good to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, to imagine far away places, mythical creatures, adventures, and excitement. Mermaiding can provide a similar feeling. It is fun, it is stimulating, it is exhilarating!
Gliding underwater, weightless, it almost feels like flying! Who doesn’t wish they could fly? It’s also tranquil underwater. Floating silently, detached from the dry world above…
Exercise is one of the main things prescribed to people who are having mental health trouble. Exercising releases endorphins, also known as the “feel good chemicals.” As previously mentioned, mermaiding is an excellent form of exercise.
For many, mermaid swimming has been a therapeutic activity, one that makes you feel more confident and can increase your self-esteem. Being in a mermaid tail and gracefully swimming underwater can make you feel beautiful and magical.
It has been widely embraced by the LBGTQ community, and is especially popular among trans people, who often feel more comfortable in their bodies when they are dressed as a mermaid.
In a world that tells us to be normal, to do what is conventional, mermaiding can set you free. Step outside of society’s standards and become a mythical creature. It is empowering and can really help you to accept yourself. Part of mermaiding is about not caring what other people think. Not worrying about what people will say. It’s about doing what you love and enjoying yourself, despite voices that may say it is silly or weird. Doing something like mermaiding can help you to stop caring so much about what other people think, which can really help increase your happiness in life.
Mermaiding for parents
Mermaiding with your kids is a wonderful bonding activity. Not only is it fun for the kids, but it also shows them that their parents are accepting, fun, and supportive. When you support a child’s desire to be a mermaid, you show them that they can be anything they want, and that they should follow their dreams. Parents indulging in their kid’s mermaid fantasies can create memories that will be always cherished and never forgotten. It can also help you destress after long days of work or busy days caring for the kids.
Mermaiding as a career
This may come as a surprise to some people. It almost sounds made up to say “professional mermaid” but it’s just as real as actors, musicians, teachers, bakers, and builders. For many it is a dream job! It may sound easy but there is a lot that goes into being a professional mermaid.
Professional mermaids make money as mermaid performers, often in aquariums, for kids’ birthday parties, and high-end events. You can also make money as a mermaid by being a mermaid instructor. A lot of time, effort, and money is required to make being a professional mermaid a reality.
Professional mermaids use more detailed mermaid tails, such as Finfolk Productions tails, or silicone tails, with costs starting around $1500. Then there is the rest of the costume, which includes a top, accessories, a mermaid headpiece, a mermaid belt, waterproof makeup, and sometimes a wig.
There are also certifications that help to advance your mermaid career, but those don’t come cheap either. Free diving, scuba diving, CPR, and lifeguard certifications are all common ones that mermaids invest in. They all cost a couple hundred dollars.
Insurance is another cost of being a professional mermaid. Liability insurance is important to get in case anything ever happens at a gig, like an injury.
You can start your own business, which involves marketing, accounting, customer service skills, along with the actual mermaiding. Investing in a website, in ads, and in professional photography are some other expenses required for starting your own business.
There is much training required to be a successful professional mermaid. Strong swimming skills, breath holding techniques, stamina and strength, and ability to hold poses are important. Practicing tricks, breath holding, and acting helps you to become a great professional mermaid.
There is also a social aspect to it. Many mermaids perform for kids and have to be convincing as real mermaids, along with being outgoing and entertaining for people. People want their mermaids to be fun and friendly, so if you are a bit of an introvert it may be more difficult or provide anxiety, but that can be overcome with practice and experience.
The expenses of mermaiding
Mermaiding can be expensive, with tail and monofins costs. Monofins are an essential part of a swimmable mermaid tail and they range between $40 and $400. A good quality tail skin costs between $35 and $700. Then there are silicone tails, which can cost a couple thousand dollars.
Being a hobbyist mermaid can be affordable, but when it comes to being a professional there are many expenses. Better tails, special equipment, insurances, certifications, tops, and accessories are all required. It’s also helpful to invest in an accountant, a website, and advertising.
For those who want to start their own mermaid school, mermaid tails can be bought in bulk and there is the cost of renting a pool and getting a business license. You can start your own mermaid school through Aquamermaid.
The History of Mermaiding
1920s: The first recorded mermaid was an Australian woman named Annette Kellerman, who was an actor, writer and professional swimmer. She was the first to swim in a mermaid tail around the 1920’s and she was featured in many films and shows. She is partially responsible for the creation of synchronized swimming, referred to as water ballet in her time.
1940s: Weeki Wachee Springs, a popular mermaid attraction, was created by Newton Perry in 1946. He created breathing hoses for underwater performers and opened the first underwater theater. Mermaid shows began in 1947.
1980s: Mermaid tails began to make more appearances in films, such as Splash (1984), The Thirteenth Year (1999), and Aquamarine (2006). Mermaid tails were popularized by Thom Shouse, the maker of Madison’s tail in Splash, and this prompted many to set out to make their own tails.
2000s: Before mermaid tails really took off, there were some women who could be considered mermaid pioneers. They created their own businesses and brought mermaiding to light for many who never knew mermaids were real. These women were some of the first to build their own businesses as professional mermaids.
Hannah Mermaid- Hannah Fraser is a professional mermaid, underwater performer, public speaker and artist. She made her first tail at the age of nine and made her professional mermaid debut in 2003. She swims as a mermaid in tails that she creates herself, but she is also a mermaid on a mission. She promotes harmony, love, and environmental justice. She has done demonstrations in which she dances among sharks to show that they are important creatures that are not as dangerous as the world thinks.
Mermaid Melissa- Melissa Dawn is another original professional mermaid. She is also passionate about the environment. Her slogan is “Let’s help save the oceans before all creatures become mythical.” She is an entertainer at kids parties, performs in a troupe of traveling merfolk who swim in tanks and is an advocate for the environment. She has been running her own mermaid business since 2007.
Mermaid Linden- For 15 years, Linden Wolbert has been a professional mermaid and freediver who travels around the world and educates kids on marine life and environmentalism. She tried on her first monofin while visiting Cayman, which inspired her to start wearing mermaid tails. She is an “edutainer.” She makes educational videos called Mermaid Minute and performs in aquariums and for parties and events. She is also the creator of the Linden Monofin and a line of mermaid tails for kids.
Mermaid Kariel- Kariel is a professional mermaid of Hawaii and maker of intricate hand-sewn sequin mermaid tails since 2009. She made her first tail when she was five years old. She is also the author of a book called The Brave Mermaid, about a mermaid who overcomes obstacles and grows to be more confident. It was inspired by her own journey, in which mermaiding has helped her to overcome issues with self-esteem.
2010s: Now there are plenty of companies that sell mermaid tails, like Mertailor (2006), FinFun (2011), Finfolk Productions (2012), Mermaid Kat (2013), Aquamermaid (2015), SunTails (2015), and many more. Mermaid swimming is becoming more accessible to the public and conferences and festivals have started, including Mermania, Mermagic Con, Mermaid Megafest, Coney Island Mermaid Parade, Mermates and also a pageant called Miss Mermaid International.
2015: Mermaid tails were at the peak of their popularity and some public pools were overwhelmed and decided to ban them. For example, the city of Edmonton in Canada banned mermaid tails from all public pools, scared that mermaid tails could lead to blackouts that can occur from improper freedriving. Monofins are commonly used in freediving, a competitive sport of breath holding and swimming as deep as you can.
2020s: Mermaid swimming becomes an official sport after joining the USA Artistic Swimming association that oversees the synchronized swimming sport. There is now a World Mermaid Championship held in China and many competitions at the local and national level. An official mermaid certification is now available for mermaid instructors to offer swimming lessons in the local pools.
Mermaids have become quite the attraction! More and more bars and restaurants are realizing that having mermaid performers swimming while guests drink and dine makes for fine entertainment and really brings in business and tourists.
Dive bar-The Dive Bar in Sacramento, California, is a popular venue that has a 40-foot saltwater aquarium with mermaid swimmers putting on a show. They host many fun events that include light shows and DJs and have weekly drink specials. You can also hire one of their mermaids for your own private event.
Wreck Bar- The Wreck Bar in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is a lounge inside a hotel called B Hotels and Resorts. They have a mermaid tank with mermaid swimmers for guests to enjoy while they dine and drink. During the week they have adult-only underwater mermaid burlesque shows, and on Sundays they have mimosa and mermaid brunches.
Sip ‘n Dip Lounge- The Sip ‘n Dip Lounge is a tiki bar and pool at the O’haire Motor Inn, located in Great Falls, Montana. They have a pool for guests to swim in that has a glass wall separating it from the lounge. It is accessible to guests, except for when the mermaid shows are occurring. You can pay to have breakfast with a mermaid there! They also have gaming machines and piano shows. Daryl Hannah, AKA Madison from Splash, has visited the Sip ‘n Dip lounge!
Before mermaid tails really took off, there were some women who could be considered mermaid pioneers. They created their own businesses and brought mermaiding to light for many who never knew mermaids were real. These women were some of the first to build their own businesses as professional mermaids.
Many mermaids struggle to find a community of mermaids in their area. It can feel lonely, but with the technology of modern day you can connect with mermaids all around the world! There are forums like Mernetwork, with discussion boards on all kinds of mermaid topics. You can also make friends through Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube. Check groups on Facebook to see if there is a pod of mermaids in or near your area. You just might be surprised to find there are more people like you close by!
Safety of mermaids
Concerns have arisen over the safety of mermaid tails. It is true that kids have drowned in mermaid tails and swimming in them can be risky. Many pools have even banned mermaid tail usage. The problem is not the mermaid tails, it is the lack of supervision and swimming ability. Kids younger than seven should not swim in mermaid tails and no child should be left unsupervised. It is also advised that you do not go mermaiding alone. It is always better to use the buddy system. Mermaiding makes swimming more difficult because humans are more accustomed to swimming by doing flutter kicks instead of having their legs together, so proper training is required to swim in a mermaid tail.
Another safety risk of mermaiding is the rising availability of knock-off tails. They are poor quality tails made with stolen designs and sold for extremely cheap. This appeals to many people who are tight on money, but these tails also come with unsafe monofins. They are usually dollar store quality flippers attached to plastic. There are other types of makeshift monofins used and they are not as safe because they break more easily than a sports-grade monofin.
Many things that humans do for enjoyment pose risks, like mountain climbing, horseback riding, snowboarding, and skydiving. It is up to each person individually to properly train themselves and weigh their options and decide if doing a certain activity is something that they think is worth the risk.
To learn how to swim like a mermaid check your area for a mermaid swimming school, and if there is not one nearby, there are plenty of instructional videos on Youtube. Aquamermaid provides great videos and blog articles that teach the fundamentals of mermaid swimming.
Become a mermaid today!
If this all sounds awesome to you then you, too, can live the dream of becoming a real mermaid! It isn’t too difficult. All you need are some mermaid swimming basics and a tail. At Aquamermaid we are dedicated to helping people become mermaids. We create videos and articles with helpful guides on mermaid swimming and technique. Learn how to swim like a mermaid first, practicing without a tail. Once you are good at that then try it in a tail. You can get your own tail here.
Find us on Youtube for videos on how you can be a mermaid!