It’s Sunday morning and I’m standing in the shallow end of a pool. But standing isn’t quite the word.
It’s more like balancing, rather unsteadily, on my newly acquired appendage — a scaly, bright green mermaid tail.
This is AquaMermaid, a bootcamp for wannabe Ariels or Madisons — whichever 1980s fish out of water you prefer.
Instructor Marielle Chartier Hénault tells our group of six mermaid hopefuls to “undulate” in the water, and demonstrates the full-body wave motion. “It’s like belly dancing,” says the willowy 24-year-old, a professional mermaid with a scaled bikini top and glimmering starfish necklace.
We take turns following Hénault’s lead, wiggling and waving our bodies through the water, using muscles some of us — or perhaps just me — haven’t used in years. All while holding our breath underwater, and trying to avoid any unsightly sputtering at the surface.
I suddenly wish I’d stuck with swimming lessons as a kid. This isn’t for amateurs.
“Because you’re doing a wave, you’ll work your entire body,” Hénault tells me later. I believe her.
Hénault, a business grad from Montreal, glides through the water with ease — twirling like an underwater corkscrew, diving to the bottom of the pool with a splash of her fin.
While she’s always enjoyed swimming, Hénault says an underwater modeling opportunity with a “monofin” last July sparked her interest in mermaids.
The hobby is growing popular because it gives people the chance to become someone else, says Hénault. “You become a magical creature.”
But for a brief moment, splashing through the water with a group of giggling mermaids, I did feel part of that world.