• Spain's news in English
 
app_header_v3
How to be a mermaid: Spanish swim school makes a splash
Photo: Sirenas Mediterranean Academy

How to be a mermaid: Spanish swim school makes a splash

Jessica Jones · 8 Jan 2016, 13:08

Published: 08 Jan 2016 13:08 GMT+01:00

If you've always fancied living out a real-life version of Splash, or following in Ariel's footsteps, then an extraordinary course in Spain could be just what you are looking for.

The Sirenas Mediterranean Academy, in Tarragona, just south of Barcelona, is bringing the mythological to life and helping thousands of people from around the world to follow their dreams by becoming a mermaid - even if only for the day.


Photo: Sirenas Mediterranean Academy

Its founder Susana Seuma, born inland in Lleida, Catalonia, was always drawn to the sea - completing her diving and lifeguarding qualifications at a young age, she was lured into the sport of freediving - diving as deep as physically possible using only the air in your own lungs.

But a serious car accident, which shattered her legs, inspired Seuma to follow her - rather unusual - lifelong ambition. 

"I said to her 'you swim so much you’re just like a mermaid'," Seuma’s partner Alejandro Rodriguez, told The Local, recalling the many hours Seuma spent in hydrotherapy recovering from the accident. 

"She was swimming a lot to help repair the damage to her legs and it was then she told me her dream was to be a mermaid."

With Rodriquez’s encouragement, Seuma lauched Sirenas Mediterranean Academy in summer 2014 in Tarragona, northeastern Spain, and in the process, lured her boyfriend into the merfolk lifestyle.

"We were chasing her dreams but we ended up sharing them," Rodriguez, who now regularly enjoys dressing as a Triton - or merman - told The Local.


Susana and Alejandro, the mermaid academy's founders, along with one of their mermaids. Photo: Sirenas Mediterranean Academy 

Mermaids - the mythical creatures that have the body of a woman and the tail of a fish - have captivated the imagination for centuries.

From the sirens of Greek mythology and Columbus’ famous sightings of mermaids in the Caribbean (which, it has since been suggested were probably manatees) to Danish author Hans Christian Anderson’s enduring classic The Little Mermaid which inspired the Disney animated film. 

More recently, online communities of mermaid aficionados have flourished. Websites such as the MerNetwork attract those fascinated by mermaids as a platform to compare tail prices and chat about their favourite depictions of mer people in popular culture.

"For people in the Mediterranean, mermaids are part of our culture," Seuma said. 

The academy offers a range of mermaid classes - starting with beginners sessions - or "baptisms" during which participants learn the basics of tail control as well as the history of mermaid mythology.

"Once in the water, the students learn floating, sprinting and resting movements as well as different styles including mermaid, dolphin and seal. We then focus on different moves including immersion, vertical and spins," Rodriguez told The Local.

Perhaps the most essential part of any mermaid's attire is her tail, and Sirenas Mediterranean Academy makes all of its own, a beautiful array of different colours costing between €150 and €189.

You might imagine that the majority of participants in the mermaid classes are little girls, eager to become a real life Ariel like the character from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

"Most of our students are girls, but we have students of all different ages and are becoming increasingly popular with men - we recently had a 73-year-old gentleman and a 60-year-old woman become a mermaid," Rodriguez said.

The courses have also become a popular activity for private parties and hen nights with sessions held in your own pool.

The academy’s students come from around the world, from the USA and Brazil to Turkey, France, Germany and the UK, all drawn by a shared desire to get back to nature and inhabit the skin of the mythical creatures.

The Sirens Mediterranean Academy also extols the health benefits of becoming a mermaid: "exercising in the water reduces stress and anxiety, increasing the mobility and vitality of our body," its website proudly states. 

"It gives moral force and stimulates endorphins, brain substances known as the pleasure hormones, which also helps you to improve your physical appearance."

A great workout that makes you more beautiful? Who could possibly resist? 


Photo: Sirenas Mediterranean Academy. 

Ecology

But there is a serious message behind all the fun, games and dressing up in a sparkly tail - one which the academy’s founders are keen to impart.

"Right from the beginning, from when we started the academy, we wanted the mermaid to be the spokesperson of the sea," Rodriguez told The Local.

"So the academy allows us to show people the importance of caring for the environment in a fun and magical way."

Sirenas proudly proclaims on its website that "education and respect for the environment are key values" and works closely with environmental charities, to which it donates a percentage of its profits.

Story continues below…

It also works closely with local schools to teach children about classical mythology and ecology in a fun and interesting way.


Photo: Sirenas Mediterranean Academy

Sirenas works with social charities and disabled people, helping them get back into the water in a fun and relaxed environment - and one of its goals for 2016 is to create specially designed courses for disabled visitors. 

"Our intention is to bring the experience to everybody," said Rodriguez, who says the academy has exciting expansion plans for the coming year. 

"In 2016 our aim is to keep growing, teaching our values and environmental messages.

"We want to help make people’s dreams come true and for the mermaid to continue to be the spokeswoman of the sea," he said.

"We believe her voice really has the power to cross borders."

Visit the Sirenas Mediterranean Academy website here and its Facebook page here

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Jessica Jones (jessica.jones@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Madrid LGBT group takes action over ‘gay cure therapy’
Madrid introduced anti-homophobic laws earlier this month. Photo: AFP

A Spanish pressure group that fights against homophobia has filed a complaint against a therapist who offers “to cure homosexuality”.

Expat Spain: Warm, friendly and brilliant for family life
Spain is one of the best nations for expats. Photo: theinterngroup.com/ Flickr

A great climate and friendly locals make up for the lack of career opportunities in Spain, according to a survey ranking the quality of life for expats around the world.

La Tomatina: Everything you need to know about epic fiesta

Every year on the last Wednesday in August the town of Buñol prepares to get seriously messy when it stages what has become the world's biggest food fight.

Costa del Sol beach closed over shark fears
The Civil Guard patrolled the beach looking for the shark. Photo: Pedrator_desert/ Twitter

Thought jellyfish were a nuisance? Fuengirola just got a lot scarier.

The Local List
15 amazing Unesco World Heritage sites to visit in Spain
The town of Ávila. Photo: Chroniron/Wikimedia Commons.

Spain has an impressive 45 locations listed as Unesco World Heritage sites for their cultural significance or natural beauty, including some that are entire towns. Here's a look at some of the most stunning.

Rajoy says forming new government ‘a wish’
Spain has been subject to a political deadlock for the past eight months. Pierre-Philippe Marcou / AFP file picture

Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned Saturday ahead of parliament's confidence vote for a second term in office that the formation of a new government remained "more of a wish".

Spanish police smash Chinese immigration ring
The Chinese nationals paid the ring about €8,000 to get a fake work contract. Photo: Cristina Quicler /AFP

Spanish police said Saturday they had smashed a major ring allegedly providing Chinese nationals living illegally in the country with fake contracts as domestic staff so they could get residency permits.

Gallery
10 super Spanish drinks everyone should try
Photo: Ignacio Palomo Duarte/Flickr

While we've all been tempted by the Spanish holiday classic of a chilled glass of sangria, Spain has much more to offer when it comes to tantalizing tipples.

Property
Buy your own Mediterranean island paradise for just €5m

Got a spare €5 million? Then this Mediterranean island paradise could be yours.

Vamos a la playa! These are Spain's top ten beaches
Playa de Ses Illetes, Formentera, Europe's best beach. Photo:Photo: Ismail Mia/Flickr

Spain has five beaches in Europe's top ten. The Local gives you a tour.

Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
National
Shocking video shows torture of young calf during fiesta
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Police launch appeal for Costa Blanca hit and run driver
Politics
What political deadlock? Spain economy forges ahead
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Features
Eight reasons to spend your gap year exploring Spain
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
International
'We won't ban burqinis on our beaches' insists Barcelona
National
British dad drowns saving daughter on red flagged beach
National
11 Spanish words that English must adopt right now
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Lifestyle
Justin Bieber just bought an amazing new pad in Lanzarote
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
Recipe: How to make Andalusian Ajo Blanco soup
Travel
Keep passports safe: Typical pickpocket scams revealed
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Travel
Ten touristy types you'll meet in Spain: Which one are you?
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Lifestyle
Ten top tips to avoid looking like a guiri when in Spain
International
Don't miss this spectacular meteor shower over Spain
Travel
Desperate Ryanair passenger chases after missed flight
Travel
What's on in Spain: August 2016
National
Get your kit off! Spain's ten best nudist beaches
National
German firestarter blames blaze on 'toilet paper mishap'
National
Flashmob prank sparks 'terror attack' panic in Spanish resort
Culture
Croquemon Go: Spain invents twist on game to 'eat 'em all'
Technology
Six free apps to simplify your summer in Spain
National
Spanish parents fight for right to name their son 'Wolf'
National
Beach closed after shark attack in southern Spain
National
Spain ups security at tourist spots as terrorism fears grow
3,251
jobs available