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Meet the Londoner who’s a mermaid in her spare time

Meet the Londoner who’s a mermaid in her spare time
Jack Latimer

Watched everything good on Netflix? It's time to find yourself an interesting hobby. We spoke to office manager Natalia about how she spends her spare time mermaiding

‘I grew up in Estonia and during swimming lessons in school we used this thing called a monofin, which you put both legs into. As young girls, we used it to pretend we were mermaids but it’s a tool for swimming – lots of freedivers use it. When I moved to London I bought myself a monofin and fell in love with the feeling. My friends booked me into a mermaiding course at a freediving space in Cornwall. They teach you about the basics of freediving and how to breathe.

‘Now I practise twice a month at leisure centres in Dulwich and Clapham. One of my friends is part of a group that hires out pools to practise diving. They only need the deep end, so I use the shallow bit. Newbie divers do sometimes get distracted by my tail and my tricks! The main technique is the dolphin kick where you kick with your legs together. You need to be quite flexible, but once you figure out how to move, the kick is really strong. There are exercises you can do out of the water to strengthen it, like moving your body against a wall like a snake. It looks really weird!

‘Mermaiding is a lot of fun, but I’m actually scared of water. I’ve never liked swimming but this is different. I like cosplay, too, and it involves aspects of that – wigs, make-up and pretending to be someone else. My tail was made for me by my friend who’s a tailor. When I get the tube to practice, the fin is attached to my backpack. It gets a lot of attention.’

Try it at the Merfolk UK Convention. Sylvestrian Leisure Centre. Tube: Snaresbrook. Apr 7.

Find more unusual hobbies and workshops in London.

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