News / Edmonton

'Childhood dream': Mermaid classes coming to Edmonton

Aquamermaid will launch its first set of classes at Don Wheaton YMCA in September

Three Edmonton cosplayers try out monofins at Don Wheaton YMCA.

Jacquie Nowlan / Supplied

Three Edmonton cosplayers try out monofins at Don Wheaton YMCA.

A new class for mermaids and mermen is overflowing with interest.

Edmonton’s first Aquamermaid class, which will teach people how to swim with their legs inside a rubber tail, is looking at adding a second pool due to fast early enrolment.

The classes start Sept. 16 at Don Wheaton YMCA.

“Most of the comments I’m getting is they get to live out the childhood dream of being a mermaid,” said Gilles Nowlan, who owns the Edmonton Aquamermaid.

“We make fun, fitness and you learn something at the same time. So that makes it very appealing.”

The mermaid trend took hold a few years ago and Nowlan said it’s growing in popularity, though it’s biggest in Europe.

Aquamermaid started in Montreal and has three locations in the U.S., with Edmonton set to be its first in Western Canada.

There has been some controversy around the safety of swimming in a tail – the city of Edmonton banned them from public pools – but Nowlan said Aquamermaid takes extra precautions to ensure everyone stays afloat.

The classes have a ratio of one lifeguard per five swimmers, and anyone who isn’t comfortable off the bat will swim with a flotation device.

Nowlan said about 90 per cent of enrolees are women, but “we do get the occasional merman around, like myself.”

Participants wear a "monofin,” which is a silicone-plastic compound with rubber Spandex fabric tail, that goes over both legs and ends with a wide fin.

Nowlan, who is an avid swimmer and scuba diver, came to the hobby through cosplaying at comic expos, where he got the idea to make his own monofin.

“I should have discovered that years ago,” he said.

“Once you learn the various movements, you can move through the water a lot more efficiently with a lot less effort.”

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