A new craze has hit the UK – and it could put lives at risk.
Lifesaving organisation in Ireland and the UK have issued warnings over a new mermaid fad due to drowning fears following the death of a teenager in Greece earlier this month.
The trend that has popped up in the UK of wearing a monofin – a mermaid tail – to swim in pools and seas has sparked concern with the Water Safety Ireland (IWS).
While the craze hasn’t hit our shores yet, CEO of IWS John Leech has said the use of a monofin can have “lethal consequences”.
“They’re a gimmick, they’re a very unsafe gimmick which will cost more lives if they’re to be bought and used in our waters… or anybody’s waters,” Leech told TheJournal.ie. Earlier this month, a teenage British water sports instructor died whilst snorkelling in Zakynthos, Greece. Harry Byatt (19) was found at a depth of about 30 metres on the seabed on 6 August. “It’s so dangerous because it’s like having your two feet bound together. It’s like if somebody got a rope and tied your feet together,” Leech said.
“Your control in the water is very restricted [when you use a monofin] unless you’ve got a very strong stroke.” According to Leech, the monofins were originally designed for divers and should never be used by swimmers, however, he “would not recommend people to use them at all”.
“They’re just a fad that has lethal consequences and I would think it won’t last very long,” he said.
The trend has popped up as a result of the popularity of children’s television show Mako Mermaids, the Disney classic The Little Mermaid, and the movie Splash.
Leech issued a warning to parents, stressing that under no circumstances should a monofin be bought for their children. In the UK, the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) has teamed up with Fin2Fit, which provides mermaid swimming classes for children, to ensure their safe use.
Mike Dunn, RLSS UK Deputy Director of Research and Education said:
“Monofin swimming for children (often called mermaid swimming) is proving to be the next craze to sweep the UK, with huge potential to engage large numbers of children in aquatic activity, designed to improve their fitness, their confidence and overall safety in the water.
However, these activities must be done in a safe and approved environment. We are conscious that there have been a number of incidents caused through improper use of monofins and mermaid tails.
“Consequently, RLSS UK strongly recommends to all parents, that the safest way for children to enjoy and benefit from this new activity is through participation in professionally organised classes, which are delivered by qualified instructors, who are affiliated to a reputable mermaid or monofin swimming organisations.”