On the internet, there are SO many fancy looking videos of breathtakingly beautiful mermaids swimming elegantly in their realistic looking silicone mermaid tails; they make it look so easy! However, mermaiding isn't as simple as slipping into a tail and splashing into the water... take it from someone who knows! If you've watched the uncut version of my "First Swim" video, then you'll know exactly what I mean. While my first swim in my MerNation Silicone Mermaid Tail was a bit of a disastrous flop, I'm here to make sure that yours is as magical as can be! ♥
After reflecting on my maiden voyage as a mermaid, I've come up with 10 tips to help you undergo your mermaid transformation with as much discomfort (and embarrassment!) as possible. Here's to a great first swim, mer-pal!
First thing's First...
As cool looking as silicone mermaid tails are, I've got to be honest with you... You have GOT to practice swimming in a Fabric Mermaid Tail or a Monofin before you even consider buying a professional mermaid tail. This is an inexpensive way to see if mermaiding is really something that you're into, and will give you a taste of the merlife without costing you an arm and a leg (okay, it might cost you your legs...figuratively speaking! ;D ). This is also for your safety and for the safety of your tail. Swimming like a mermaid does take some getting used to, and you don't want your first swim to be in a $3,000.00 USD piece of restrictive silicone... do you? That would be like getting behind the wheel of a Lamborghini for your first time driving! DON'T DO IT!
Whether you chose to buy a monofin or a fabric mermaid tail is up to you. Personally, I opted to start with a fabric mermaid tail, since I wanted to look like a mermaid as soon as possible. I was actually surprised by how realistic my Fin Fun tail looked, by the way!
Here's what a fabric tail looks like!
10 Tips for Swimming in a Silicone Mermaid Tail
After you've gotten in plenty of practice with your fabric tail or your monofin and you KNOW you're ready for a Professional Mermaid Tail, then congrats!!! You can keep reading! (Or you can keep reading anyways, since I know you're curious!) If you'd rather not read though, you can watch a shortened version of this blog post, which you can find here.
Oh!!! And if you haven't gotten the chance to see my first flop-of-a-swim, then here's that too:
What to do Before Getting into Costume
Part of having a successful first outing in your tail involves planning ahead. Below you will find some advise on how best to prep before you hop into the water. Trust me, a little bit of forethought can save you a a great deal of stress!
1. Buy a Utility Cart or a Wheel Chair
As Mermaid Raina discussed in one of her "So You Want to be a Mermaid" videos, a good-old utility cart or a sturdy wheel chair are a mermaiding must-have! While I didn't have either one for my maiden voyage, I now use a folding cart when I take my tail out for a dip (or go to dry-land events). Goodness gracious... it has made life SO much easier!! Not only does having a set of wheels to put your mermaid-self on reduce the risk of hurting your merwrangler's back, but it also makes it much more simple for you to get from one place to another. Plus, let's face it... getting to go for rides on the cart is a preeeetty good time. ☺
2. Prepare for Takeoff
I am a HUGE fan of lists; I have l them laying around everywhere! Before your big day, be certain to write down everything you think you'll need. This could include things such as:
- Your tail, costume accessories, and other pieces for your outfit
- Your Utility Cart
- Extra Lubricant (I like to take along some extra lubricant just in case I need it. It travels well in a Tupperware container.)
- Towels... ALL of the towels!!
- A change of clothes
- Water and snacks
- A camera or phone (so you can record your swim and share it with me! ;D )
- Your swimming buddy, of course!
I'm sure there are some things I forgot to add to this list, so feel free to comment with some of your ideas if you can think of anything else that may come in handy! Once you have your list put together, feel free to get started with packing what you can a few days in advance. This will save you some last-minute stress on the day of.
3. Prepare with the End in Mind
Chances are, after your first swim you are either going to be A: Tired, or B: On a mermaiding high. Whatever the case, one thing's for certain... You need to clean that tail of yours (and your body)! Setting up a "mermaid tail cleaning station" before your adventure will make cleaning your tail post-swim a breeze and will save you some time after a loooong day of living the mermaid life. Check with your tailmaker to see their recommended care instructions for your specific brand of tail. Mermaid Raina has a super informative video covering the basics of bathing a silicone tail, which you can click here to watch her video.
Even when you do have everything set up in advance to sparkle up your tail, remember that it does take time and you should not cut corners. Your tail is your baby, and your baby needs you! ♥ I have a video discussing my experience giving my tail a full scrub-down, which you can watch here if you are a bit nervous about taking on the task.
4. Be Ready to Explain
So... if you are making your mermaiding debut in a public location, then I can guarantee you that you're going to have people of all ages flocking around you. They will ask questions, they will make remarks, and yes... they will want to tug at your fins. Before your first outing, it may be a good idea to come up with a few answers to questions like "are you a real mermaid?!?" Or to remarks like "mermaids aren't real, that's just a person in a costume." In addition, you'll want to consider whether or not you want to have a story to go along with your "mersona" or if you simply want to be "a person in a costume." In the end, it's up to you to decide how you want to present yourself in the public. Personally, I find that the response "I'm as real as you believe me to be," or something similar tends to answer the most difficult of questions. ;D
Getting into Costume
Have everything you need? Awesome! Now let me share with you a few tips I have about getting into your silicone mermaid tail and staying in your silicone mermaid tail. I kinda started to come out of mine on my first swim, and I'm assuming that you don't want to do that... so get out a piece of paper and take notes! ;)
5. Use lots of Lube and Wear Skimpy Undies!
As kinky as that title above may sound, it's true... the more lubricant and the less clothing you have on your body the easier it is to get into your tail. Now, don't you start blushing!!! I'm not saying you have to take a trip to some shady store to become a mermaid... no, no, and NO! However, the silicone on the inside of your tail will stick to your skin and your undies/bathing suit bottoms when you are trying to wiggle into it, so you will want to make sure to lather on a lubricating mixture of hair conditioner and warm water. Apply it generously all over your legs, feet and glutes. I put some my undergarments too, since that helps make them more slick and less likely to grab onto the silicone. Additionally, have some towels nearby to wipe off your hands. Otherwise, they'll become slippery and you'll have a very tricky time rolling your tail up your legs!
6. Wear Neoprene Socks
Neoprene socks are made of wet-suit material and really help keep the heel straps on your monofin from sliding down your ankles. While they are certainly not a magic-bullet that will guarantee a swim with zero slippage, they definitely reduce the likeliness of your feet escaping your monofin. Sure... they aren't the most stylish things in the world, but I highly recommend that you get yourself a pair. You should be able to find them at your local sporting-goods store. If not? Look in the Description Box of my latest video. I have the links to a pair like mine there. (I had a heck of a time finding some in store... I searched nearly every store in Traverse City for the darn things!) Neoprene socks are the bee's knees. ♥
7. Adjust your Heel Straps
Mermaid Erin, from MerNation Inc. is so wonderful! She sent me a video tutorial showing me how to adjust the heel straps on the monofin of my silicone tail and it changed my life!!! Her technique involved removing the straps from the monofin, tightening/loosening them as needed, and then jamming hair-ties into the "S" shaped piece that the straps wind through. (I'll create a video for you sometime down the road... since it's a kinda confusing to explain in text) If you're unsure about how to adjust your straps, talk to your tailmaker to see what they recommend you do based on the type of monofin used to create your tail. A little warning though... finding your "perfect adjustment" is a trial-and-error process. It can be frustrating, and your straps will still slip from time to time, but getting them to fit to your feet as good as mermaidly-possible will make you feel more secure in your tail.
While in the Water
Once you're all suited up and ready to hop in the water, there are a few things you will want to keep in mind to ensure that your first swim is as magical as can be. Below are some in-the-water tips for a successful swim. Some of them are a little odd and aren't things you'd think would be all that important to do, but they are extremely vital when heading out into the deep blue sea (or swimming pool).
8. Let those Air Bubbles Out!
So... let's talk about "mermaid farts." No, seriously! XD
Silicone is some pretty air-tight stuff, so when you submerge a silicone tail in the water it tends to trap air inside of it. Getting that air out of your mermaid tail is crucial to avoid falling out of your tail while you're trying to swim. To do that, you basically just have to let water flow into your tail so that the air bubbles get pushed out. It sounds so simple, but I would say it is the single-most important tip I can give you. For real. When the air leaves your tail, the silicone suctions to your body and creates a sort of vacuum...it's kinda the same sort of thing that that weird shrink-wrap stuff does that is used to winterize boats or to preserve food. Sure, it looks cool to jump straight in the water and swim away into the water, but that's noooot the best idea. ;D
9. Always Swim with a Buddy
Even if you look like a mermaid, you really can't breathe underwater, so don't risk it. ALWAYS swim with a friend nearby in case you need a helping hand (or some coconut water!). No matter how strong of a swimmer you are, swimming with your feet bound together adds an extra risk to an already potentially dangerous situation. We don't need any drowning mermaids (imagine what the kids would think! :C) so play it safe and swim with a buddy (or swim while your buddy observes). Safety should be your number one priority anytime you go out for a swim... mermaid tail or no mermaid tail!
10. Don't Panic!
First, don't panic about going on your first adventure! And second... don't freak out if you are swimming in your tail and your feet come out of your monofin (or if they come out before you get into the water.). As long as your feet are mostly in the foot pockets of your flippers, then the suction caused by releasing the air bubbles from your silicone tail should hold you in place just fine. While you may not feel quite as secure as you would if the heel straps were on, you will still be able to swim around and have a good time. I spent over an hour swimming around in Lake Michigan like this for my second swim and it worked out just fine.
So stay calm and mermaid on! ☺
And a Bonus Tip just for you!
11. Show Gratitude
Be thankful that you are able to go mermaiding and make sure to let your team know how awesome they are too! Maybe you could make your merwrangler a big batch of cupcakes or treat them to a day at the spa for all of their help. After all... You can't get into the water with your silicone tail without a helping hand (or a few), so don't forget to show how grateful you are for all of the help. Even if things don't go exactly as you plan for them too (first swims can be messy!) don't become a grumpy guppy! Be kind to your team, be appreciative, and be sure to vocalize how out-of-this-world mermazing they are. ♥
I hope this helped!
And if you just quickly scrolled to the bottom of this blog post and figured that it was too wordy to read, above is a condensed version covering 4 of the most important mermaiding mistakes to avoid. Happy mermaiding! ♥
XOXO - Mermaid Phantom