It seems like only yesterday that my sister and I tied our feet together, let our hair down and swam around the pool in our backyard, fully convinced that we were Ariel and that, if we put our minds to it, we could totally sprout fish tails.

As I grew older, these aspirations slowly dwindled, and the pool became nothing more than a cold body of water…

Until Disney approached me to see if I wanted to try Mermaid School.

Yep, in honor of The Little Mermaid’s 30th anniversary, the company teamed up with Sheroes Entertainment to hold a one-day “Mermaid School” in Los Angeles, where I learned everything from how to swim with a tail to how to apply fish-woman skills on land.

Mermaid classes are actually nothing new, and there are multiple places that offer lessons, camps and schools in multiple locations, including Aqua Mermaid and Fin Fun Mermaid. And while some folks do it for exercise and others do it for cosplay, in my experience it’s mostly attended by young women, who, like me, just really, really wanted to be Ariel when they were growing up.

Curious to know what it’s all about? Here’s everything you need to know about mermaid swim lessons.

ariel and flounder little mermaid

The Basics

The one-hour session takes place at a hotel pool, and my particular course included eight other women. (Although I soon realized that only two mermaids go in the water at the same time).

My session was complimentary, but they typically cost between $50 and $500.

mermaid school
Mandy Rodgers

The Costume

After getting my waterproof makeup professionally applied, it was time to put on the top and tail, which is assigned and provided by the school. The top is pretty much a silicone bra, which is covered in starfish and mesh. You know, for looks. (And don’t worry, I wore a bathing suit top underneath.)

To put the tail on, I sat on the ground and inserted my feet into the designated pockets. (There’s a place for each foot at the end of the tail.) 

I then gathered the nylon material and tried (and failed) to squeeze myself into it like a tight pair of jeans. By which I mean, I laid on my back, pushed my hips in the air and wiggled around until I could pull it all the way up. Supes attractive.

When I was finally suited up, two instructors carted me to the pool on a dolly, because getting around is a lost cause.

mermaid school 3
Mandy Rodgers

The Lesson

After getting rolling into the water, the instructor walked me through a series of basic “mermaid skills.” This includes swimming from one side of the pool to the other without drowning, which is way harder than it looks, and spinning underwater by bringing one arm down to my side. 

With the help of weights, I learned how to sit on the bottom of the pool without pumping my arms. I even learned how to blow heart bubbles, which—again—I’m hoping can be mastered with a little practice. (Take your pointer fingers and put them in front of your mouth. When you submerge yourself underwater, blow a brief, steady stream of bubbles while moving your fingers outward, creating a heart shape.) 

After passing the unofficial mermaid test, I teamed up with photographer Brenda Stumpf to shoot underwater pics and videos, and the footage speaks for itself.

mermaid school 4
Mandy Rodgers

The Catch

I only lasted 30 minutes in the water, and I was ready for a glass—or five—of pinot grigio. Mermaiding (just go with it) is hard work. Not only does it require serious lung capacity, but it also works parts of my body that I didn’t know existed.

In other words, I’m all set on being Ariel for the time being.

RELATED: Calling Future Mermaids: Disney’s Princess Subscription Box Is Back and We’re Going Under the Sea

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