Want to Be a Mermaid? This Spanish Swim School's Got Your Tail - Atlas Obscura
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Want to Be a Mermaid? This Spanish Swim School’s Got Your Tail

(Image: Mehgan Heaney-Grier/Wikipedia)

When The Little Mermaid first hit theaters in 1989, aspiring mermaids and mermen who wanted to live an Ariel-influenced lifestyle had to make do with homemade tails and make-believe. Now there are myriad options for wannabe merpeople—including a school in Spain that can teach you how to be a swimming siren. 

Sirena Mediterranean Academy, located in the Catalonian coastal city of Tarragona, has been open since 2014. Its director, Susana Seuma, was a business manager until a car accident left her with a leg injury. Regular swimming became a part of her recovery process, which was what first inspired her to open a mermaid school. A year later, Seuma established Sirena Mediterranean Academy. She operates it alongside her partner, Alejandro Rodríguez, whom their website declares is “a Triton now.”

The academy’s aim is to make it easy for people to have ”the magic experience of being a mythological creature.” It offers 90-minute lessons in the art of aquatic mermaiding, including a “Baptism” class, in which participants don tails and swim in a pool, and an advanced class, which takes place in the waters of the Mediterranean. It incorporates instruction on costal fish types and an introduction to spin moves as well as shark, eel, and swordfish swimming styles. (The academy also offers its services in a corporate team-building context.)

Sirenas Mediterranean Academy joins a growing list of mermaid schools around the globe, including the Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy, AquaMermaid in Canada, and the Mermaid Camp at Weeki Wachee, the “City of Live Mermaids” in Florida. 

Some public pools, however, have been less than enthusiastic about making mermaiding part of their world. In May 2015, the Canadian city of Edmonton banned mermaid tails from its pools, saying it was too much of a safety risk for swimmers to have their legs bound in a skin-tight tube. (This concern has been voiced over the years, as mermaiding has become more popular. In 2013, an independent organization known as the International Mermaid Swimming Instructors Association was established to promote safe and high-quality aquatic mermaiding education worldwide.)

A silicone mermaid tail made by Finfolk. (Photo: Finfolk Productions)

For aspiring modern merpeople who prefer to just show off their scales and fins on the beach, there are also lots of vendors that offer custom-made mermaid tails to shimmy into. The tails range from simpler fabric designs to hand-painted silicone-sculpted creations that sell for thousands of dollars.

Finfolk Productions, based in Hawaii, even offers an online Mermaid Tail Design Center in which buyers can select their preferred color combos, fluke fin style, and, for $1,000 more, opt for individually sculpted scales.