Mermaiding Diver: The New Craze!

Posted June 6th in Diving Courses

Even as covid-19 continues to cause chaos throughout the world, a new trend has been growing. Mermaid diving! Even PADI have released a curriculum of mermaid diving programs, from beginner right through mermaid instructor and instructor trainer.

Lets take a look at the origins of mermaid diving, where this all came from and how to get involved:

Are mermaids real?

For thousands of years, stories of fishlike humans have permeated cultures spanning throughout Africa, Asia and Europe. In some ancient accounts they were a destructive force associated with storms, shipwrecks and drownings.

In other folklore, stories abound of men being pulled to their watery graves in pursuit of these finned seductresses. It even resulted in the term, which permeates SCUBA and freediving today, “the rapture of the deep.”

Still other traditions saw mermaids as benevolent beings guiding lost mariners to safety, towards treasure, and away from, or through, tempests.

Today, we mostly dismiss the myth of the mermaid as nothing more than wives’ tales or superstition. But how do we explain the similarities in features throughout these vast and varied cultures?

When did we first see contemporary mermaids?

Perhaps, the first person to bring mermaiding from myth to reality was an Australian woman named Annette Kellerman. She is thought to be the first professional mermaid. An avid swimmer who was also among the first women to ditch the traditional ‘pantaloons’ swimming costume for a more functional one-piece suit, Kellerman was a real-life adventurer who trail-blazed a variety of world firsts.

She went from competitive swimming to doing high-diving exhibitions, oftentimes into pools filled with crocodiles, to possibly inventing the sport of synchronized swimming and also to mermaiding.

Kellerman did two shows a day in her younger days back in Australia, swimming inside fish tanks at Melbourne’s Exhibition Aquarium. She also had a mermaid show at Prince’s Court Entertainment Center. The year was 1902.

Annette Kellerman decided to move to the UK to see if she could earn money with her swimming, high diving and mermaid feats. In the beginning she found it tough going until she decided to take a publicized dip in the Thames River and swam 42km in total. This put her on the map and the newspapers dubbed her the “Australian Mermaid.”

In 1911, Kellerman made the first of what she called her “fairy tail films”. It was a Hollywood production aptly named, The Mermaid. In the film she wore a mermaid tail that she designed herself. Today’s costumes rely heavily on her initial design.

Kellerman was a true “water baby” whose passion led her across continents to showcase her skills and to inspire others. She was among the first women to publish books and speak on women’s fitness issues and attributed much of her celebrated physique to swimming and her strange diet at the time. She was a vegetarian.

Over the years, more mermaids followed Kellerman’s lead. American- born Esther Williams was a competitive swimmer from California who was unable to compete in the 1940 Olympics due to World War II. She trained alongside the original television Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller, and caught the eye of MGM scouts who signed her to do a series of “aquamusicals” featuring synchronized swimming numbers. In 1952 she appeared in the lead role of Million Dollar Mermaid, a biographical film about the life of the aforementioned Annette Kellerman.

Could I be transformed into a mermaid diver?

Now, the legend has been confirmed. There are real mermaids and mermaid-makers living and walking the planet, ready to share the secrets and transform you into an actual mermaid!

Dive instructors throughout the world are teaching and willing to share the secrets of these mythical, exotic creatures. Would you like to experience being a mermaid?

But seriously, how can I possibly become a mermaid?

Ok, in all seriousness, you can’t actually BECOME a mermaid. Physiologically, we are all tied to the surface of by our need to breathe air to take in life-giving oxygen. But you can certainly get the sensation of wearing a mermaid’s tail, moving gracefully through the water and even getting some beautiful once-in-a-lifetime photos of the experience.

Mermaiding is fun, a great way to spend an afternoon, learn a new skill, document your holiday in a beautiful destination and is available for kids as young as 6 years old, adults, women and (mer)men!

The first step is to find a dive center. Many of the major dive training organizations are offering mermaiding courses. PADI, SSI and NAUI have all been teaching people to become mermaids for several years. Not all dive centers support mermaid courses, so make sure that you check ahead of time for availability, course times, costs and further logistics.

A mermaid trial course may be the perfect way to introduce yourself to the glamorous life of mermaids. Most dive shops have some sort of ½ day Mermaid Intro or Mermaid Discovery course that allows even the uninitiated the chance to try out mermaiding. If you are fairly comfortable in the water, something like this may be an easy way to dip your tail in the water.

Otherwise, you may want to take it a little bit slower or even start off by doing a Basic Freediving course. This will give you a chance to gain confidence in your abilities in the water, which will transfer over well when you eventually move on to a Mermaid course.

A Basic freediver course can be done with as little as a few days and does not require a big financial investment. You will learn about the physiology of freediving, techniques to increase your breath hold time, safety for freediving and you’ll also get a chance to practice and improve your ability to dive to depths down to a maximum of 20meters/65 feet.

In just a few days freedivers are often able to increase their breath hold time from, say 30 seconds, to as much as 2 minutes, or more! Obviously, this will equip you to confidently don some new equipment and try out becoming a mermaid.

So, which agency should I choose?

You’ll find that with most of the major training agencies there are few material differences in the courses they teach. In different areas of the world, some agencies have an outsized footprint.

Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI)

PADI is easily the largest and most recognized scuba training agency but has been one of the latest comers to the mermaid market. PADI instructors are found in virtually every country in the world and many are able to teach the various mermaid courses.

PADI offers a short Mermaid Experience course, which has no prerequisites and can be taught to kids as young as 6 years old. It’s done in a few hours in a swimming pool. Shallow enough for the participants to always stand up (regardless of height).

The Basic Mermaid Course is a short course resulting in a certification. These participants must have at least very basic swim skills. They can also be as young as 6 years old. This course can be completed in a swimming pool in deep or shallow water.

The full Mermaid Course requires participants to be at least 10 years old and still further swimming abilities are needed, though they do not require you to be a physical specimen by any means. This course is also confined to a swimming pool.

Finally, for those who would like to try mermaiding in the sea, lake or other open water site, there is the PADI Advanced Mermaid Course. Here you can get your tail wet in a pool and get comfortable before progressing to deeper water, down to 10meters/33 feet.

Mermaiding dive

What is the best location to do mermaiding?

As all of the training requires some pool work, resort destinations in tropical environments offer some of the most scenic atmospheres to do the training. Being able to jump in a pool au naturel for boys and girls, or bikini top for girls, and a mermaid tail without having to wear any exposure protection certainly allows you to feel more connected to your environment.

There are dive centers throughout the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Red Sea, SE Asia and Australia offering a full range of mermaiding dive courses in areas where you can find warm waters and plenty of sun. And for those hoping to dip into the sea and swim with their finned fellows, keep in mind to choose a place with easy access to the sites.

Most resort locations will also have some local photographers or videographers, who can be hired for the day to come and capture you in all your slippery, scaled glory to show friends and family. For the best photos and videos you may even consider asking them to join in the swimming pool. The shallow, clear water makes the best use of available light and helps to make the colorful mermaid costumes really pop for your social media mermaid blitz afterwards!

Mermaybe…?

If you are still on the fence about whether this mermaiding thing is for you, the best thing to do would be to contact a local dive center to learn more. Making a commitment to something so far-out may require a bit more consideration than other endeavors. You’ll definitely benefit from hearing from the onsite, local mermaid teachers who can give you some better perspective. As the courses are fairly inexpensive and may be hugely rewarding, what do you have to lose?!?!?!

Author

Baden Ramm

Baden Ramm

PADI Master Instructor, Aqualung Technician, retired mining engineer, BBQ Guru and all-round Aussie Legend.

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