Wed the day! Make your mermaid dreams come true with mermaid lessons
Manila, Philippines – Admit it. Many of us have dreamed of becoming a mermaid.
After all, we grew up watching Ariel in The little Mermaid. Even Filipino TV shows love Dyesebel and Marina make us want to believe they are real. We often dreamed of living under the sea with these vibrant and colorful mermaid fins.
One woman, however, turns those dreams into reality with her special mermaid academy.
For Roxy Barrios Almeda, becoming one with water was something she was always meant to do. Her father was a scuba diving instructor and her mother was a swimming instructor. Most of her summers growing up were spent on the beach.
“I was a competitive swimmer for most of my youthful years, and every sport I participated in was rooted in water, from triathlons to wakeboarding to scuba diving and swimming. ‘apnea,” she told Rappler.
While most are afraid and worried about the water, Roxy has no qualms about diving headfirst – it’s her safe space. Surrounded by water, she is not afraid.
By participating in water sports, Roxy’s family quickly discovered how to combine swimming with fun. Her father became part of an underwater production crew that shot international and local movies and shows, and she soon became involved in that industry as well.
She trained actors on how to move properly underwater and taught many of them how to swim while wearing a mermaid tail. With many productions under her belt, Roxy shared that she even served as a stunt double and extra in several projects.
“From mermaids to ghosts and siyokoys, I was basically an underwater artist since 2005,” she recalls.
After a few years of training only actors, Roxy wanted to share her knowledge with more people. She then designed a program that specifically taught people how to swim like a mermaid in a swimmable mermaid tail.
Hence the birth of the Mermaid Institute.
Conceptualized in 2002 but officially launched in 2013, the Mermaid Institute offers mermaid lessons in Metro Manila and throughout the Philippines.
What is the Mermaid?
“Mermaiding” is a term coined by professional mermaid pioneers in the early 2000s to refer to the act of swimming in a mermaid’s tail.
To be able to swim properly while wearing a mermaid tail, you must use the dolphin kick technique. It’s a swimming technique in which the legs are extended backwards and move in sync – up and down in unison with a slight bend in the knees on the upstroke – reminiscent of a dolphin.
It’s different from what normal swimmers are used to, who move their legs alternately.
“The mermaid is really delicate [at] the beginning, but once it all comes together — timing, ankle strike, fluidity, undulation — you’ll be kicking properly from this point on,” Roxy said.
While mermaid lessons are open to non-swimmers, Roxy is candid in saying the experience will be best enjoyed by those who can swim independently.
The Mermaid Institute offers a crash course of 60 minutes called “Intro to Mermaiding” for those who wish to learn the basics of mermaid. Classes are open to students from the age of five and are open to all genders.
“For some people, one session is not enough to achieve [the point where they can kick properly], and I would recommend an in-depth course of five sessions. But for some people, they get to that point in 15 minutes. And since the introductory class is a crash course, we move on to ‘mermaid moves’, like teaching them sideways swimming, mermaid flips, somersaults, during this session,” she said. .
The Crash Course Intro class is perfect for participants who are still testing the waters – not sure if this is something they want to do long term. But for those who want to hone their mermaid skills, Roxy invites them to their five-session program.
Each session, participants will learn dolphin kicks, buoyancy control, freediving techniques, mermaid stunts, and marine conservation.
Once participants are comfortable with their mermaid skills, they can now move on to other fun group classes such as the ‘Mermaid of the Deep Challenge’, which takes place in a diving pool where the mermaids can do deeper dives, and “Mermaid Fitness,” for those who want to add a twist to their exercise routine by incorporating mermaid moves.
Beyond the Mermaid
Throughout her teaching years, Roxy appreciates how responsive and supportive the Filipino mermaid community is.
She recalled that on previous day trips to Batangas, each participating group was a memorable group. The excursion involved an exclusive trip to Anilao, during which participants participated in a mermaid session in the pool, followed by a marine conservation session, and then an open water mermaid photo session.
Boyfriends or Instagram daddies who join these journeys give their full support – becoming photographers, personal assistants and directors all in one just for their partners or children. One trip was even wildlife-tested, after thousands of jellyfish (not the super dangerous kind, Roxy said) circled them.
“[Activities like this] are always difficult, the moments behind the scenes are always for the books. But it’s sure, [each participant] will have an amazing photo or video, meet a fun group of friends and live [their] mythical mermaid fantasy,” she said.
With such activities canceled for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Roxy said they are now looking forward to a lot more splashing now that things are reopening.
“Sharing the mermaid’s gift through the Mermaid Institute just has that mythical, magical effect,” Roxy said. “Seeing that joy in a child’s eyes once they’ve worn the mermaid tail for the first time or seeing the excitement in our older participants as they awrah because their underwater videos really give me this passion to continue for this mermaid dream.
“But more than dressing and moving like a mermaid, I hope to inspire mermaids to live as true protectors of the sea. We live in a country with exquisite marine life. Presenting and raising awareness about the perils of the sea will always be an integral part of mermaid life. Rappler.com