Mermaids beached at leisure centres

A young swimmer has started a petition asking Chilliwack leisure centres to allow regulated use of mermaid tails in the pools.

Eleven-year old Nicole Lambert has started a petition asking for safe

Eleven-year old Nicole Lambert has started a petition asking for safe

Young girls who dream of swimming like Ariel have been told to put those dreams on hold, for now.

Nicole Lambert had been swimming with her shiny ‘Tropical Sunrise’ orange tail at the Cheam Leisure Centre many times, without a problem.

While the 11-year-old certainly caught the intrigue of other young swimmers at the pool, it wasn’t until two weeks ago that Nicole and fellow mermaids were told by lifeguards that the use of mermaid tails is now prohibited, at both of Chilliwack’s Leisure Centres.

The tail, by Fin Fun Mermaid, is made up of two parts. The monofin is a lightweight flipper that the wearer slips both feet into. It fits securely, but will come off easily with a light tug. The colourful mermaid tail skin wraps both legs together and pulls down to extend over the monofin, creating the seamless look of fish tail.

Nicole became enchanted by the mermaid tail when she saw a girl wearing one in town two years ago.

“I thought it was really cool, and that it would be a fun way to swim,” she said with a big smile.

Nicole spent over a year saving $140 by babysitting her brothers, pet-sitting for her extended family, and house-sitting for her neighbours.

Finally, the tail was hers. And it was perfect.

But safety was top of mind for her mom, Sharon.

Before allowing her to wear the tail in the water, “she made me take a swim test,” Nicole explained.

As outlined in the ‘Are you Mermaid Tail Ready?‘ video, Fin Fun Mermaid recommends that swimmers are tested to prove that they’re able to safely and confidently back float, tread water, roll and flip with control, and swim with the signature dolphin kick.

They also recommended that swimmers age five and younger should not use the tails, and that all young users should be supervised by a parent.

Nicole passed her mom’s swim test with ease. Although they don’t have a pool at home, this Garrison family has spent plenty of time in their local public pool.

“It’s really fun, you go really fast,” Nicole enthused of her experiences using the tail at the pool before it was prohibited.

She propelled gracefully around the water with her friends who have tails of their own, and she’s seen several other pool-goers transform into colourful mermaids as well.

When Nicole was told that mermaid tails were no longer allowed at the leisure centres, the lifeguards cited safety concerns.

Leisure Centre staff aren’t alone with their concerns. Some other Canadian public pools, in Edmonton for example, have banned them, referencing the added risk involved when legs are bound together.

If the wearer isn’t’ a strong swimmer, they might have a tough time maneuvering or balancing, which can heighten the risk of drowning. Unpracticed mermaids might also pose a risk for other swimmers in a crowded pool, similar to using other flippers or pool toys.

Nicole went home after hearing the new rule, disheartened and disappointed. “She was ready to give up and try to sell her tail,” Sharon said.

But her mom saw the situation as an opportunity for her daughter to practice her problem-solving.

“You don’t have to get mad. You don’t have to give up. You can just ask questions,” Sharon had explained to Nicole. They spoke to Cheam Leisure Centre staff to discuss it further.

This mother and daughter offered a few suggestions for a plausible solution, rather than an outright ban.

Require mermaid tail users to pass a swim test first, as they do in Toronto pools. Allow mermaid tails only during specific hours or lanes. Require parental supervision. Perhaps, offer mermaid training swim classes at the centre.

The trend of ‘mermaid training’ is growing in Canada and internationally, from the United States to Germany. Classes are available in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, and individual mermaid coaching is available in Vancouver.

In addition to being a fun and exciting way for little girls to live their dream of swimming like a mermaid, it’s also a unique way to stay active.

“I’m pretty sure they’re open to changing things,” Sharon pointed out. Canadian Recreation Excellence Corporation (CREC) staff confirmed that the decision is not yet final.

“[CREC] is in the process of doing our due diligence and completing our own research and assessment on the use of Mermaid Tails in both controlled and uncontrolled environments in our facilities,” GM of Chilliwack Landing and Cheam Leisure Centres Shawn Bourgoin told The Progress in an email.

Their final decision on the tails will be based on safety, industry standards across other facilities, and recommendations from the Lifesaving Society.

In the meantime, Nicole and Sharon have started an online petition for people to express their interest in the topic, hoping to garner at least 100 supporters.

Just Posted

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of June 13

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Madalyn Clempson, 18, of Chilliwack sings ‘Hiney Yamin Ba-im.’ She won the Intermediate Vocal Canadian Music award at the Performing Arts BC Virtual Provincial Festival. (YouTube)
Chilliwack youth bring home awards from provincial performing arts festival

Chilliwack’s 18-year-old Madalyn Clempson ‘a bit stunned’ to have won Intermediate Vocal Canadian Music

These three kittens, seen here on Thursday, June 10, 2021, are just some of many up for adoption at the Chilliwack SPCA. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Three kittens at the Chilliwack SPCA

Kittens were in ‘rough shape’ when they came into the Chilliwack SPCA, now ready for adoption

Jacqueline Pearce and Jean-Pierre Antonio received the BC Historical Federation Best Article Award on Saturday for their story about translating haiku written in the Tashme internment camp.
Article chronicling haiku in Japanese internment camp near Hope wins award

Tashme Haiku Club’s work was preserved and recently translated, authors write

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Chilliwack family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read