Mer­maid craze fires alert about its flip side

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - JU­LIA BRADLEY

MERMAIDING en­thu­si­asts in Townsville have been warned of the risks by Surf Life Sav­ing Queens­land Townsville life­guard su­per­vi­sor Rus­sell Blan­chard.

The Townsville Mer Pod has been swim­ming in pub­lic pools like the To­bruk Me­mo­rial Baths since the group formed early last year.

Inspired by sim­i­lar groups around the world, the group ar­gues “mermaiding” is a cre­ative form of so­cial­is­ing and a great form of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.

But Mr Blan­chard said new­com­ers needed to be cau­tious.

“If there are young chil­dren do­ing it un­su­per­vised or weak swim­mers or peo­ple who can’t swim, ob­vi­ously there is a risk there,” he said.

The cheaper span­dex tails, con­sid­ered most suitable for be­gin­ners, are light and stretchy, made from swim­suit ma­te­rial. When the mer­maids grad­u­ate to more ex­pe­ri­enced swim­mers, they wear a neo­prene tail that weighs about 2.5-3kg when wet.

The 15-mem­ber pod recog­nised there are some dan­gers as­so­ci­ated with the ac­tiv­ity.

Head mer­maid Caitlin Stubbs, 17, said it would be fool­ish to not ac­knowl­edge there were risks for in­ex­pe­ri­enced swim­mers.

Mr Blan­chard said su­per­vi­sion and ex­pe­ri­ence were key to en­sur­ing the hobby was safe.

“When they first do it, do it in shal­low wa­ters or just sit­ting up to get used to the piece of equip­ment they are us­ing be­fore they start jump­ing in wa­ter and at­tempt­ing to swim like a mer­maid,” he said.

“As long as there is some­one there, keep­ing an eye on one an­other, it will stop any­thing go­ing pear shaped.”

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