Mermaid Isla To Compete In Miss Mermaid UK, 2019

I’m very happy to announce that I have been chosen to compete in the Miss Mermaid United Kingdom pageant in 2019. Miss Mermaid is a pageant for mermaid performers. As well as competing in traditional pageant rounds such as a talent round, there are also mermaid themed rounds such as an underwater distance swim and an underwater photoshoot.

I will be competing as Miss Mermaid Hertfordshire and am looking forward to representing my home county. I’m excited that the Herts Advertiser has written a piece on me, to support me in this competition. Whatever happens on the day of the competition, it’s a great opportunity for me to share my love of mermaiding with more people and get to know more of the UK mermaid community. Part of the purpose of the competition is to raise my for a chosen marine conservation charity. This year the charity is Sea Shepherd UK. You can support me and the charity by donating to my Go Fund Me Campaign here.

Miss Mermaid United Kingdom is managed by the awesome Mermaid Grace, who is my boss at Hire A Mermaid UK and is absolutely lovely. The winner will get to compete at the international pageant in Egypt.

I am being sponsored to enter the Miss Mermaid United Kingdom competition by Legal Expert. If you have been injured because of an accident that was not your fault they have some great online resources about claiming compensation. They can also provide you with a no win no fee solicitor to handle your compensation claim and they come personally recommended by me.

The Miss Mermaid UK 2019 finals are held at the Royal Berkshire Conference Centre at Madejski Stadium on Saturday 5th October. You can purchase tickets and find out more, here.

Featured Photograph By Steve Millard at Apneists UK.

Freediving in Croatia

freediver

I recently returned from a two week trip to the Dubrovnik Riviera in Croatia with my husband. We attended the wedding of two very dear friends and spent two weeks enjoying the beautiful rocky beaches of the Dalmatian coast and the city of Dubrovnik.

Freedive

I also got the opportunity to spend a morning freediving with Freedive Dubrovnik. Freediving is diving without an oxygen tank. Instead you hold your breath for an extended period of time and equalise your ears to prevent pressure building up inside of them as you go deeper. Being able to swim underwater for extended periods of time and comfortably acheive depth are essential skills for mermaiding. I’ve also grown to love the sport in its own right and am keen to see how far I can push myself.

Freediving Croatia

I already had some freediving experience, as I have an AIDA 1* certification, and I often train with the London Freediving Club in a pool and have done a 10m depth open water dive in off the coast of Cornwall. Croatia has some of the cleanest and clearest waters in Europe, so I was keen to take advantage of the location and test out my freediving skills. I wanted to acheieve a 16m depth dive, because that is the requirement to pass the AIDA 2* Open Water qualification. I’m hoping to take this certification this autumn, so I was keen to get some practise in.

16m depth freedive

All in all I had an amazing experience. Ghautier my instructor was excellent. He was very attentive and spent a long time getting me to practise 5 metre dives and correcting my technique. This helped me when I started doing deeper dives. He also lengthened the weighted rope gradually, so each dive built a few metres on the last making it easier to acheive. I loved going deeper under the water, feeling the cold through my wetsuit, and being able to stop and look around under the sea. When I completed the 16m depth dive, I managed to brush the sea grass growing on the ocean floor with my hands and take a look out to sea before I floated up, feeling absolutely elated.

Returning to the surface

All in all, it was a physically challenging experience but very rewarding. Given the quality of instruction I had, as well as being more experienced, my overall performance was far better than my first openwater dive. However I do have one word of warning for anyone who is thinking of doing freediving training or a certification. I didn’t bring a bottle of water with me. I naievely thought I’d be going on a boat to the spot where we would be diving. Instead, we swam out with a buoy and I left my water on a rock, with my flipflops and sunglasses. It was a very hot day, 33 degrees centigrade and the sun was very strong. I usually don’t cope well with the sun beating down on my head at the best of times and tend to wear a sunhat or stay in the shade. After about an hour I started to feel sick and dehydrated and had to swim back to the rock to have a drink and a break. This wasted a lot of my training time, so next time I’d definitely check where the freediving will be taking place and make sure there’s space for some drinking water.

All in all it was a wonderful experience, which helped me improve my confidence and experience the underwater beauty of Croatia in a unique way.

WARNING: Never freedive alone. Do not attempt to freedive if you are not a trained and certified freediver.

Featured Image courtesy of Russell Bowes. Images features Cavtat near Dubrovnik, not the location I freedived.

Underwater photos courtesy of Ghautier Ghilain, Freedive Dubrovnik.

 

Freediving

 

My mermaid summer

My name is Hana, at the present time I’m 31 years old and I live in West London with my husband and my dog. And for over a year now, I have also been a mermaid.

I’ve always loved mermaid mythology and like most children I was obsessed with Disney’s The Little Mermaid when I was a child. A natural water baby, who loves swimming, my love of mermaids has always been about escapism, the freedom to explore and use your imagination. Unfortunately until my late twenties I thought that mermaids were just that, a figment of my imagination and something out of reach for me. Then in the summer 2015 I began to see mermaids everywhere. Ofbeat Bride, an alternative wedding planning site featured a Little Mermaid themed engagement, one of my favourite hair care products Overtone featured a beautiful professional mermaid called Mermaid Odette as a model for their spring summer campaign and I also saw a picture of Hannah Fraser AKA Hannah Mermaid, one of the world’s most famous mermaid performers on Buzz Feed. I also saw a travel program which featured Weeki Wachee Springs, a state park in Florida which is known for its live mermaid shows. It wasn’t long before I discovered  free diving, and the incredible work of artists like Finfolk Productions, Merbella Studios, Mertailor and The Mernation who make realistic, swimmable mermaid tails.

Mermaid Odette
Mermaid Odette modelling for Overtone Haircare

To cut a long story short during summer 2016 I decided to learn how to free dive and swim in a mermaid tail. By spring 2017 I was enjoying it so much that I decided that I was going to open my own mermaid party business. I’d always wanted a job where I could use my creativity, I also knew I loved to swim and am good with children. It seemed like the perfect job for me. But apart from regularly swimming with my fabric mermaid tail, I hadn’t had many experiences of taking my mermaid persona out into the public.

My first public mermaid experience was going to Merfolk UK 2017, a mermaid convention, which was held at Dulwich College in South East London. For the first time I experienced the fun and freedom of swimming with other mer-people who loved mermaids just as much as me. I also got to see some fantastic tails. Some of them were silicone tails, made by well known mermaid tail makers, others were DIY inventions using a mixture of fabric, sequins and silicone. Not long after that, I also had a mermaid photo shoot in The Italian Water Gardens in Hyde Park with my friend Marta Bortoli who is a talented photographer. Not only did I end up with some fantastic shots to use on my website, I also experienced how much attention you can get being a mermaid! People were crowding around me and several children wanted to have their picture taken with a mermaid, who very quickly realised I must have come from the nearby Serpentine River to see them.

To get some more experience and get my name out there I decided to take the opportunity to do some public appearances at events this summer. I did a mermaid meet and greet at the Pagan Pride UK Fesitival in Nottingham and the Angel Canal Festival in Islington, London. I was blown away by how positive the experience was. The majority of children thought that I was a real mermaid and were very curious about how I got to the festival from the sea (the ones that didn’t agreed it was fun to use your imagination and pretend I was). It was an absolute joy to see the looks of excitement and wonder on the children’s faces and to give them the dream come true experience of meeting a real mermaid. There were quite a few adults who wanted their photograph taken with a mermaid as well and I left the day on a high.

Real life mermaid
At Pagan Pride before my Meet and Greet. Photo by Pee’s Photography.

Since the summer has ended I’ve been lucky enough to open Mermaid Isla as a business and start doing my first children’s parties, on land and in the water. I’ve had really positive feedback from parents, who are happy to see their children get a “dream come true” experience of meeting a mermaid, and while the children haven’t given me any formal feedback, the look of excitement on their faces says it all. For the first time in my life, I’m beginning to feel lucky to be doing a job where I can make the most of my creativity and make other people happy as well.