One of the first things I arranged once I knew I was visiting Brighton was to meet up with Emily from Cuttlefishlove and try out her mermaid monofin. I was so excited! There was just one problem...I hadn't been swimming for aeons, and it could be said that I had lost my sea legs...The night before we were due to meet up, I made an emergency trip to a pool to check I still remembered how to swim. Thankfully I did. The next morning I headed off to meet Emily for the first time in real life, a little unsure what to expect from our mermaid session. It turned out to exceed all my expectations!
Emily is trained in freediving and regularly swims in her monofin so she was a great teacher. First she got me to swim in flippers and try to master the dolphin kick movement required for swimming in a monofin. It's really similar to the movements used in belly dancing, but in the water. Getting used to having extensions on my feet was quite an experience, but I could quickly feel myself making progress. The main issue for me was getting under the water-over a year of not swimming had left me severely lacking in confidence, and I was scared of going underwater and holding my breath. Emily was really good with this and helped me build up to it slowly, using a diving mask. Eventually I managed to get my confidence back and was happy swimming underwater. Then it was time to try the monofin!
Getting into the tail (which Emily made herself!!!) and the monofin felt both weirdly natural-I have been trying to achieve mer-hood for my whole life, after all-and very very strange. The merfin was really wide, and also added extra weight, so I had to move in a different way. I really enjoyed swimming in the merfin and tail though, and it helped me develop my dolphin kick-there isn't really any other way to move when your legs are held together and you have a giant fin extending from your extremities!
I'm glad that my first experience of mermaiding was an informal session with someone I knew, as I think I would have felt too intimidated if I had gone to a professional introduction with an instructor. I'm really lucky that I know Emily and got to have this opportunity! Learning with a friend was so much fun, and we also got to mess around posing for the camera at the end.
I didn't fully master the dolphin kick, and I still have a lot to learn, but this experience has made me realise that this is something I'd like to pursue. I swam a lot when I was younger, both in pools and wild swimming, and it is something I really miss, especially as I LOVE being in the water. I'm determined to get back into it, and swimming will help my confidence and core strength, which will come in very handy for mermaiding. Once I've developed more confidence in the water I will be looking into joining a local freediving class, and saving up for a merfin! I have already bought flippers and a diving mask, so I'm taking the first steps. I'll keep you updated on my progress!
Emily has a waterproof camera (which is amazing and I really want one!), so she filmed me swimming and very kindly edited it into a little video. You can also get a glimpse of her at the end, looking like a natural mermaid! I hope one day I am as good as her. It's so wonderful to have this memento of my mermaid experience. Here's hoping it was the first of many!
If you're interested in Emily's mermaiding you can check out her twitter, facebook and instagram for updates.