Today is International Mermaid Day. Rather than just re-watching up The Little Mermaid in celebration, Australians can now take their mer-love to new depths with an official PADI-approved mermaid diving course finally available Down Under.
Mermaid diving is a trend that’s growing in popularity in Australia. Already a hit in the US and China for its original take on the sport of freediving, mermaids wear multi-coloured tails over monofins that bind their legs together, so they can swim like dolphins.
PADI offers a NSW Mermaid Course that includes knowledge development and at least two water skill sessions, run by Shellharbour local Maxine McLaughlin.
Maxine discovered freediving, then mermaid diving, after a serious back injury got in the way of her usual water-based pursuits. As an international dive expert, she runs mermaid courses in the waterways of Middle Harbour to help people overcome setbacks and learn about the ocean.
Past student Lauren Metzler grew up swimming in waterfalls in Oregon and now uses her skills to help educate beach lovers how to respect the ocean. She can also regularly be seen cleaning up beaches with local environmental groups.
In addition to donning a flowing tail, participants learn skills such as dolphin (butterfly) kicks, C-shape and U-shape side turns, and some skills distinct to mermaid diving, including backward somersault turn, underwater handshaking mermaid bubbles, and back glides.
There are a few prerequisites though: participants must be in good physical health, at least 10 years old, be able to swim 50 metres without swim aids, and be able to comfortably float at the surface for a least five minutes. No previous diving experienced is required.
If this sounds like something that floats your boat, find out more at padi.com/courses/mermaid