A swimming instructor has opened the UK’s first mermaid school.
Michelle Forsbrey, 42, is offering lessons to young children and grown adults to live out their fantasies of living under the sea.
Mermaiding involves swimming while wearing a specially tail costing between 30 and 200 pounds.
Michelle’s lessons, one to one lessons cost 100 pounds for two hours and include safety instructions, a photoshoot, and underwater video and technique on how to swim like a mythical sea creature.
Qualified underwater instructor Michelle said: “I always thought, if I can bring mermaiding to the UK, it will be amazing, you know, it makes people happy, escaping from the stress of everyday life.
“In 2015, I had an injury myself, from surfing and skiing and was given loads of physio to do.
“I was told that one of the first exercises I would be able to do again would be swimming, and I wanted to make that fun.
“I didn’t want to think about what I couldn’t do, I wanted to think about what I could do, so I bought a mermaid tail, I knew I was always going to buy one at some point.
“I started using it at the local hotel pool, and the response was unbelievable, people were like, ‘Mum, there’s a mermaid!’
“It was totally the reaction of other people in the pool that made me turn it into a business- I would hear children saying, ‘Do you think the mermaid is gonna be in the pool today?'”
Michelle named her school Mayim Mermaid Academy after the Hebrew word for water, which is “Mayim”.
Based in Bournemouth, Dorset Mayim Mermaid Academy uses a number of local pools near to Michelle’s home in Bournemouth.
“I saw in the Phillipines and the USA there were mermaid schools, so I thought there had to be an instructor course and found one in Germany.
“I completed that training course and also a swimming teacher course in the UK- I completed my qualification in mermaiding with FreeDive UK.
“I’ve worked with a giant beach campaign group called Surfers Against Sewage, where I ran the Big Spring Beach Clean.
“This was one of the UK’s first mermaid beach cleans, where we picked up lots of plastic debris from the beach- these tiny pieces of plastic, I think they’re called micro-plastic.
“The idea of being a mermaid is that they come from the sea, all my friends are beach people, paddle boarders and surfers.
“So yes, I try to teach people things about the sea in my classes, telling them about what happens when a plastic bag is in the sea, how they look like jellyfish and those sorts of things.
“Mermaiding is getting more and more popular for sure, I teach children from the age of six years old- all the way up to 40 to 50 year old couples.
“They must always be confident in the water and able to swim, because while I’m a qualified swim instructor, I’m not there to teach them to swim.
“So they have to be able to do breast-stroke arms and dolphin legs- and I teach them how to sit safely by the pool, how to safely carry their tail and everything.
“I am so passionate about it, and I want my students to have the best experience possible, and to make the whole things more of an experience than something they do everyday.
“You can’t use tails in every pool, because it isn’t always safe to do so- sometimes you need a structured environment to teach people safety first.
“You can buy any tail on eBay for as little as 30 pounds, but I wouldn’t recommend that one, a good one for a child will cost around 100 pounds.”
In December 2015, mermaiding received bad press after a video of a young girl went viral amidst claims that she almost died because the tail she was wearing.