How to (Seriously) Become a Mermaid
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a mermaid. This sounds like a silly statement, but I’m sure I’m not the only one. I grew up in the 90s. The Little Mermaid and Peter Pan were my absolute favorite flicks, and that’s because I was obsessed with the mermaids. No joke, my parents have dozens of photos of me when I was a kid, sitting on the slide of our plastic kiddie pool, pretending to be a majestic mermaid on a rock. Even today, the mermaid documentaries fascinate me. A wave of nostalgia sweeps over me whenever mermaids are involved, so needless to say, when I stumbled upon the Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy on Facebook, I had to find out more!
PMSA is exactly what it sounds like – a mermaid swimming school. Founders Normeth Preglo, Anamie Saenz, and Franziska Limmer came up with this brilliant concept. Students wear colorful mono fins, similar to the kind that free divers and Olympic swimmers use, that are designed to look like mermaid tails, complete with airbrushed scales. The instructors teach the students how to swim like mermaids, which is not only tons of fun, but also excellent exercise!
KA – What inspired you to start the Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy?
AS – PMSA is the brainchild of Normeth. She used to own a dive shop and is a licensed diving instructor [and was] one of the first to open a kite boarding school in Boracay (Hangin Kite School). Her natural fascination for mermaids led her to a quest to search for a Halloween costume. In doing so, she discovered a mermaid community on the internet and the idea started. She then shared her inspired idea of opening a mermaid activity with a teaching “school” concept, like a school of fish!
She first shared the concept with [me], former co-founder of Groupon Philippines and New York certified make up artist. I saw the business potential with her idea. It is, after all, every girl’s dream to be a mermaid and the mass appeal of this concept was hard to ignore. Together, with common friend Franziska Limmer, who is also a kite boarding instructor and licensed scuba diver, PMSA was born. Djuna Rocha, certified swimming instructor, soon joined in to open the Manila and Cebu branch.
With this concept, we are able to widen the reach and accessibility of “mermaiding” to everyone, regardless of age, gender and race, as we create a safe and fun atmosphere supervised by our trained and certified instructors.
KA – What kinds of services and classes are offered at PMSA?
AS – Mermaids or mermen of all ages, sizes and genders are welcome, as long as they have basic swimming skills, although the classes are geared towards helping students improve their swimming skills and gaining confidence in the water. Our rates vary depending on the location, and fees include the use of a mermaid tail. We suggest students bring sunscreen and goggles. Some of the programs and activities we offer are Introduction to Mermaid Swimming (2 hours), Mermaid Snorkeling (Intro class is a prerequisite), Scuba Mermaid (must be a licensed scuba diver), Mermaid Make-Over Photoshoot (both above water and under water), and Mermaid Fitness (aqua aerobics).
KA – How has PMSA grown since you started it in 2012?
AS – Due to the global demand for our program, the Philippine Mermaid Swimming Academy has decided to set up International Mermaid Swimming Instructors Association (IMSIA).This association is designed to establish standards and regulations to its members, specially geared towards instructors and schools that will ensure quality service and a safe environment for students and clients. This association will enable more schools to open across the globe and create a career path for certified instructors. It will be a portal where members can share information on new teaching techniques, share new ideas, promote school events and activities, and to create a community of like-minded individuals.
KA – What do you love most about your job?
AS – All of our instructors would tell you that teaching people how to swim like a mermaid is a fun and fulfilling job. We see each person’s transformation. You notice the steady build up of confidence in every mermaid stroke. Everyone that leaves a mermaid session has a smile on their face, which leaves a fluttering of joy in our hearts seeing that we helped fulfill someone’s dream.
I loved learning about this amazing business, and I hope you did too! I’ll be bucket-listing a visit to one of their locations in the Philippines (Borcay, Manila, and Cebu), or the one in Germany for sure! If you’d like to find out more, check them out on Facebook and their website.