Mermaiding, while being about graceful movement, swim strokes, and strength, also heavily incorporates imagination. It’s a serious sport, career, and hobby, but you are also pretending to be something you are not. You dress up as a mermaid and pretend to have the personality of one, much like with acting. It’s not just about pretending to be a mermaid though, it’s also pretending to be completely comfortable with every aspect of being a mermaid, masking the pains and discomforts that can be presented. Professional mermaids make it look easy, but there are many struggles that come with being a mermaid.
Nothing comes free of problems, and mermaiding is no exception. It’s a fun and magical activity that has many benefits to it, but there are also physical pains, social and mental problems, and financial struggles that can result from being a mermaid.
That shouldn’t deter you from wanting to be a mermaid, because it’s still a healthy and fun activity that has more pros than cons. You can read more about the benefits of mermaiding in our article on what mermaiding is.
When it comes to the not-so-great parts of mermaiding, there are usually solutions. Here are some mermaid problems one can face and ways to overcome them.
A) Pain and discomfort
Blisters are a mermaid’s enemy. They form easily and can range from mildly uncomfortable to painful. Swimming in a tail requires a monofin, which is essentially one large flipper that both feet go in. Swimming the dolphin kick in a monofin for long periods of time can cause blisters from your ankles rubbing against the rubber or silicone material of the foot pockets. The solutions to this problem are simple as can be!
- Wear neoprene socks while you swim in your tail/monofin. Neoprene is the material wetsuits are made of so it is more resistant to damage, but a regular pair of socks will also prevent blisters.
- Wrap heels/ankles up with ace bandages before swimming.
- Use strong medical tape to cover up the spots on your feet that rub against the monofin.
If you forget to do one of these things and end up with blisters on your feet, it is important to treat them with care to prevent infection or prolonged pain.
- Clean the blisters with fresh water
- Apply antibiotic ointment
- Use a bandage to cover them
2. Chlorine in eyes
You’ll be familiar with this problem if you’ve done much swimming in your life. It’s almost unavoidable as a mermaid swimmer. Pools contain chlorine to kill bacteria in the pool, which can get in your eyes and sting. There are three things to do to tackle this problem. One is to prevent it, another is to become comfortable with the pain, and the last is to treat the pain after swimming.Prevention:
- Wearing goggles is really the only fool-proof way of preventing the burning sensation of chlorine in your eyes. If your eyes are sensitive to chlorine, this is the best option for practicing your mermaid swimming or just having fun in the water. For a professional mermaid swimming in a tank, it is not recommended to wear goggles because it takes away from the illusion of being a real mermaid. There are now goggles available for mermaids that look more realistic. GoGills are high quality clear goggles with silicone fins on the sides that can be customized to match your tail.
- Keeping eyes closed when underwater. This isn’t the safest way to prevent eye pain, but done carefully it can help. This is not a good idea if there are other people in the pool, you don’t want to crash into them. To do this safely, swim in a streamline position (arms straight out, squeezing your ears and helping you glide aerodynamically through the water) or one arm forward and one at your side. Having your arms in those positions will prevent you from bumping your head on the pool walls.
- Avoid chlorinated water. Most pools have chlorine in them so if you want to swim without that issue, choose a body of fresh-water. There are also non-chlorinated alternatives for keeping a pool clean.
Building up your pain tolerance:
There isn’t really a trick to becoming comfortable with chlorine in your eyes. It’s really more of a psychological issue. You just need to overcome the discomfort of it by increasing your pain threshold. Much like continuing a run or workout despite your muscles burning or going to work even if you don’t feel that well (which is not advised given the current pandemic), you can push through the discomfort until eventually it won’t bother you as much. Here are some other tips on how to become more comfortable with opening your eyes underwater.
- Start slowly- while underwater, squint a little bit so you can almost see underwater. For a second, open your eyes and then quickly close them again. After doing this a few times, eventually begin holding them open for a few seconds at a time, and keep increasing the time as you grow more comfortable with it.
- Practice in freshwater. You can practice opening your eyes in a bathtub because it will provide the sensation of water getting in your eyes without the burning of chlorine. You could also practice with a bowl or basin of water.
Treatment of burning eyes:
If you can tolerate opening your eyes underwater you will likely end up with red, burning eyes, and possibly cloudy vision afterwards. It is important to treat it immediately, especially if you have to drive somewhere.
- Flush out your eyes with freshwater from the sink. You will need to let the water touch your eyes to rinse out any chemicals from the pool. This is the same thing you are instructed to do if you get chemicals in your eyes in a science lab.
- Use eye drops. They are composed of the same natural solution that is present in our eyes. Eye drops help with itchy, red, and irritated eyes.
For more on training yourself to open your eyes underwater, refer to our article on mermaid swimming techniques. It covers how to open your eyes underwater, how to swim faster, how to dive deeper, and more.
3. Pain in nose
When water rushes up your nose from diving down into a pool or body of water, it causes pain, or at least discomfort for some. The reason being your sirunes are sensitive and water is not meant to flow through them.
As a swim instructor, one of the things that held many kids back was their fear of getting water in their nose. They would try to swim and hold their nose at the same time, which is just not efficient. For mermaids, you definitely don’t want to be holding your nose, as that really breaks the mermaid illusion. It’s fine, of course, if you’re just having fun, but if you really want to feel like a real mermaid, being able to prevent water from getting in your nose so you can look natural as you swim is important.
Just like with getting water in the eyes, there is a certain degree of just having to become more used to the pain and pushing through it. But there are also some preventative measures.
How to avoid water in your nose:
- Nose plugs. They can block any water from getting into your nasal cavity. Go for clear ones to make them less noticeable. There are even some almost invisible ones called Sinus Saver.
- Wear a dive mask. A dive mask not only allows you to see underwater and prevent burning in your eyes, but it also will cover your nose.
- Blow bubbles out of your nose. When you push air through your nose it prevents water from being able to get in. Blow gentle bubbles, remember you don’t want to let out too much air because then you won’t be able to stay under water as long. Hold your nose and blow out some air and that will help to keep the air in your nose while swimming.
How to deal with water in your nose:
- You can train yourself to get used to the pain. From my personal experience it is always the first time of every swim that hurts the most when the water enters your nose. I always start my swim with getting water in my sinuses on purpose. I call it wasabi technique. It hurts first, but afterwards you are used to it for the swim. If you want to perform with no diving equipment and do flips or any upside down movements water will get in your nose guaranteed.
- Train your muscles to block the water from entering your sinuses. The muscles in the back of your throat can be conditioned to block water and prevent sinus pain. To do this you can wear a dive mask and fill it with water. Slowly tilt your head back and practice using the muscles in your throat to try and stop water from entering your sinuses.
4. Pain in ears
Water is essential for mermaids, but it sure can be pesky! Getting in your eyes, nose, and also causing pain in your ears! The reason is that the pressure changes as you go underwater and it causes a painful sensation in your ears. You can feel uncomfortable pressure inside your inner ear. To ease the pressure in your ear from diving deeper, you need to equalize. To do this just hold your nose and blow air through it, you’ll feel a little popping sensation.
Swimmer’s ear is another problem that can occur from excessive swimming without proper ear protection. It is caused by water remaining inside the ear cavity after swimming, causing buildup of bacteria. Earplugs can help prevent swimmer’s ear. If you end up with pain in your ear after swimming, try eardrops.
Swimming with a mermaid tail will force you to always keep your feet pointed and this often causes cramps in calves. If you have a cramp in your calf, grab the tip of your fin or your toe and pull it toward you to stretch the back of your leg or walk on your feet outside of the water.
Mermaiding is, in fact, a sport. And participating in any sport often results in cramps and soreness from working out your muscles. It is important to stretch before and after swimming and maintain a healthy diet that incorporates potassium. One of the best ways to avoid cramps is to drink a lot of water so you stay well-hydrated.
B) Problem of expense
Nothing in this world comes free. Mermaiding has quite a few costly elements to it. This can be a barrier for some people who can’t afford things like:
- Tail costs
- Lesson costs
- accessory/top costs
- Pool access costs
Those are just some things that hobbyist mermaids have to worry about. If you want to take mermaiding to the next level and become a professional mermaid that’s a whole other ballgame with its own costs. Professional mermaids have to pay for things like:
- Business licenses
- Silicone tails
If you are new to mermaiding, it is a good idea to start with an inexpensive tail. These are fabric tails that cost between 80 and 150 dollars, including the monofin. Some affordable brands are:
- Mermaid Kat
Check out our article on best mermaid tails to learn more about prices and age ranges of the best mermaid tails.
If you can’t afford a tail, then getting a monofin is the minimum measure you can take to swim like a mermaid. Many mermaids will wear a monofin with mermaid scale print leggings, which can be bought for around $10.
You can save money by making your own mermaid tail and accessories. There are many great tutorials on Youtube on how to make your own fabric tail, mermaid top, and accessories. Local craft stores and fabric stores should have the supplies you’ll need.
For professional mermaids, you can save some money by renting a silicone tail instead of buying one, for specific occasions. You can rent a silicone tail through Aquamermaid for $800 a week.
C) Social/mental problems
For many, mermaiding brings confidence, but some are insecure about their unique hobby. There are always going to be people who think it is strange and that is just something we need to accept. Never in life will we ever be able to please everyone. Yet we still obsess over other peoples’ opinions. Here are some other stressful things that can come from being a mermaid:
- Comparing yourself to other mermaids online who may have more expensive tails and professional photographs
- Not looking like the typical little mermaid Ariel, the white, thin, beautiful woman stereotype, commonly how mermaids are too often portrayed in the media
- Dealing with drama online
- Feeling insecure about your swim abilities or not being able to swim
- Seeing successful professional mermaids and feeling like you’ll never be able to get there, especially when you are first starting out as a mermaid and wish to become a pro
- Having trouble making friends with other mermaids and feeling like an outsider in the mermaid community
These kinds of problems can arise within any hobby, unfortunately. It’s one of those facts of life. But we don’t have to let those things get in the way of enjoying mermaiding!
Never lose hope of making mermaid friends, and remember that it takes some time and effort to create genuine connections. You really have to put yourself out there and be brave. When you do make mermaid friends or are connecting with some online, just remember sometimes drama may happen, which is natural within any friend group. When that occurs it is important to be open, communicative, and understanding. Find out the whole story, make no assumptions, and do not verbally attack or publicly accuse anyone (contact them privately to confirm facts).
It’s also good to avoid comparing yourself to anyone. It’s so easy to compare ourselves to people who we think are doing better than us, but they were once in the same place as you! Success is something to be worked for, to be earned. It takes a while to fully achieve your goals. One thing I tell myself is that, yes there are people who are ahead of me, but there are also people that I’m ahead of. I would never want someone to feel bad about themselves because they are earlier on in their mermaid journey, so I must acknowledge that people I’ve sometimes envied have worked hard to get there and that I will too someday. Other mermaids should be your friends not competition, they can be partners and mentors.
For those who feel insecure about their swimming abilities, this just comes down to needing to keep learning and practicing. Practice makes perfect! If you feel like a failure for not being good at swimming like a mermaid, just remember that you only fail if you stop trying! If you’re feeling down about your mermaiding, check out our article on mermaid swimming skills to learn some techniques!
If you don’t want to deal with some of those issues, maybe mermaid swimming isn’t right for you, and that’s okay. You can still be an embodiment of a mermaid even if you don’t own a tail or swim as a mermaid. You can channel your inner mermaid by dressing up in a mermaid tail skirt, wearing a tail without swimming in it, wearing mermaid or ocean-life jewelry, using a mermaid tail blanket, or just by enjoying the beach. Being a mermaid isn’t just the act of swimming in a mermaid tail, it’s also a mentality.
The mermaid mentality includes:
- Feeling a connection to the sea
- Love of water
- Reverence for nature
- Caring about the environment
- Being a free spirit
- Whimsical personality
- Adventurous spirit
- Enjoy sparkly/shiny objects or makeup
If any of those resonate with you, then you just might have a mermaid soul!
We want to encourage you to follow your mermaid dreams despite the problems. Mermaiding is all the more worth it when you do overcome those struggles. The best things in life often require hard work and perseverance. So, never lose hope in your dreams and never give up!
Author: Olivia Gilbert is a mermaid influencer and professional mermaid who has been swimming as a mermaid for seven wonderful years. She is an English student who has a passion for writing and editing. It brings her great joy to combine her two favorite things: mermaids and writing! Visit her website.