Mermaid Tails: Fun Water Toy or Summer Swim Hazard?

Is everything fun a "potential danger"?


When I see something new and cool for my kids my immediate reaction is usually “Oh how fun!” and I am often surprised by the opposite “how dangerous” response by others.  

I first heard of mermaid tails last year and after seeing how crazy cute and fun they looked I decided to order them online for our 3 daughters. 

We have a backyard pool, my kids are all up to date on their swim levels, I love toys that inspire kids to get active, and HOW COOL would it be to swim like a mermaid?  Plus they come in all the fun fabulous colours my kids love.

The kids found mermaid tails under the Christmas tree and had to wait 5 months to use their new tails and fins. This past Sunday they took their maiden mermaid swim. They loved it. The thought that these tails were a hazard or I should be concerned for my kids safety never crossed my mind until I saw the article by CBC about how these tails are “propelling safety concerns.

I am still not convinced I should be overly concerned.

While I agree with Rob Campbell's comments that it does bind legs together, and could make it difficult to swim, in my opinion that is only if you used the tail without the fin. The addition of the fin actually gives the kids more skill, strength, speed and agility in the water.  They can easily stand up in the shallow water with the fin on and stay above water easier in the deep end by waving their tail.  Waddling about on a pool deck with the fin or tail on however, I would not recommend at all!

Campbell goes on to say that “swimming with a fin promotes breath-holding which can result in blackouts." This would be the point at which I may have rolled by eyes a little. Swimming promotes breath holding.  So diving, going under water, playing Marco Polo or going after diving sticks should all be considered hazardous?

Swimming itself is a hazard unless your child is a strong swimmer.  Adult supervision and water safety should be a given any time kids of any age are around water, tail or no tail.

The mermaid tails and fins themselves should treated with the same amount of safety concerns as swimming in deep water.

In order to swim with a mermaid tail in Calgary, lifeguards have swimmers take a test in which they must swim 25 meters continuously, tread water for 2 minutes, and swim with confidence while wearing the mermaid fin. Similar tests are currently required to swim in the deep end of many public pools so I don’t see this as an unreasonable request.

My concern with the mermaid fin is the same concern I have when kids are wearing flippers in my pool or public pools – when you get hit by one it hurts!  Busy public pools and crowded home pools are not ideal for flippers or fins but not because you need to hold your breath.

Girls (and boys) just want to have fun in the water and these tails make you feel like mermaid and propel you faster than you've swum before.  My girls are loving their tails, but I will be monitoring their use for any signs of concern, as I do with everything else they try that is new and cool.  So far all I have witnessed is smiles and over the top cuteness.

Whether the mermaid tails and fins get banned from public pools remains to be seen but there is a growing trend with the fun and fit side of the fins. A Montreal mermaid school is promoting the health and fitness benefits of these fantasy fins and offering adult classes complete with bright pink mermaid tails.  

Now that sounds like some girls having fun!

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