Less than ma­jes­tic

Metro re­porter Kevin MaiMann, who hates swim­ming tries be­ing a mer­man at Ed­mon­ton’s first Aquamer­maid class at Don Wheaton YMCA

Metro Canada (Edmonton) - - News -

I’ve al­ways hated swim­ming. Tak­ing classes as a kid, I failed the sec­ond level five times be­fore I gave up en­tirely.

I could prob­a­bly dog-pad­dle or tread water to save my life in a cri­sis, but I don’t plan to test that the­ory.

So when I learned Ed­mon­ton was get­ting its first mer­maid class at Don Wheaton YMCA, I thought it could be a chance to start over.

I’d join adults who were all learn­ing to­gether, in an en­vi­ron­ment where I didn’t have to worry about look­ing silly. Be­cause, let’s face it, we all kind of did.

Not that I mean to den­i­grate the grow­ing global trend of swim­ming in mer­maid tails.

Aquamer­maid’s Ed­mon­ton owner Gilles Nowlan, an avid swim­mer and scuba diver, said many as­pir­ing mer­maids sign up for the classes to live out child­hood dreams they’ve had since watch­ing The Lit­tle Mer­maid.

Nowlan came at it through cos­play­ing at comic ex­pos, and then started mak­ing his own fins.

I joined a trial run of the adult class, where we got oneon-one help from in­struc­tors who had just learned mer­maid­ing them­selves and then de­vel­oped rou­tines they teach with re­mark­able skill and con­fi­dence.

I started by slip­ping on a blue “monofin,” made from a sil­i­cone-plas­tic com­pound with rub­ber Span­dex fab­ric tail that goes over both legs, and barely squeezed my feet into the two scuba-div­ing flip­pers hooked to­gether at the bot­tom.

The tails are mostly de­signed for women as they make up the ma­jor­ity of en­rolees, but they’ll fit a slen­der mer­man like my­self in a pinch.

Once the tail is on, there’s no walk­ing or hopping (for ob­vi­ous rea­sons), so you’ll have to scut­tle your butt down the side of the pool.

Nowlan swears the fins can help a swim­mer glide through the water more ef­fi­ciently and with less ef­fort, but let’s just say I didn’t quite make it to that point.

The fin was heav­ier than I ex­pected in the water and a chal­lenge to lift out when swim­ming

My flop­ping and flail­ing was less than ma­jes­tic.

Adult classes fo­cus more on fit­ness than fan­tasy, pro­vid­ing a ro­bust full-body work­out, so at least I got that much out of it, though I paid for it with sore legs the next day.

Thanks to ex­pert teach­ing from my in­struc­tor Courtney, I was able to not only keep my­self from drown­ing, but she said I was ac­tu­ally do­ing pretty well by the end.

She was prob­a­bly hu­mour­ing me but I’ll take it.

Nowlan said en­rol­ment in the Aquamer­maid classes — the first of their kind in Ed­mon­ton — has far ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions ahead of the first class on Sept. 16.

Any­one who’s in­ter­ested can still sign up on­line.

Kevin Tuong/for MeTro

Kevin Maimann joins a trial run of the mer­maid adult class at Don Wheaton YMCa.

Kevin Tuong/for MeTro

Kevin Maimann as a Mer­maid.

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