Mermaid Tails – Friend or Foe?

Water safety is a big concern, especially during the summer months here in Southern California. Hundreds of children in the United States die each year from drowning which is preventable, many of whom would have likely described themselves as strong swimmers. So should mermaid tails that could potentially increase the risk of a tragic drowning be allowed at public pools or at a pool party? Knowing what we know and from what we have seen, we believe that mermaid tails should not be used in either situation. The use of mermaid tails should be left to professionals such as mermaid performers who train daily on swimming skills.

According to Fin Fun‘s website, a child should be able to swim 25 meters continuously, tread water for two minutes and swim with confidence while wearing the mermaid tail. Additionally, it is not recommended for children under 5. We hardly think that is enough!

A child is meant to be able to demonstrate the above without the tail, which may not give a clear indication of their abilities once the tail is actually on. When you tread water, your legs are kicking around, not bound together. Children are taught to tread water by moving their legs like they are peddling a bicycle, which is impossible to do while wearing a mermaid tail. Treading water is often one of the first skills young swimmers learn because it’s a way to keep them afloat should they get tired in deep water. If a child was wearing one of these fins and got tired, they couldn’t tread as they were taught. This is a major concern for the lifeguard staff at Golden State Lifeguards.

Young swimmers would also have to compensate with their arms for the lack of strength in their legs. Already-tired swimmers could become even more tired very quickly, posing a real drowning risk. This is especially concerning in a large public pool, where a lifeguard may be responsible for watching 50 to 100 swimmers of varying abilities and as we have documented on numerous occasions, many young lifeguards are dropping the ball when it comes to surveillance of swimmers in a pool. Too many swimmers are drowning on their watch!

The mermaid tail also forces a child to swim in a style similar to a butterfly stroke, which is considered one of the most difficult strokes to master at any age. Swimming continuously using a breaststroke for 25 meters would be much different than swimming the same length using a butterfly stroke. Not to mention, there aren’t too many kids out there who would admit to a lack of confidence if it meant giving up their sparkly tail. This can lead to disastrous outcomes.

Some public pools have adopted a swim test policy based on Fun Fin’s standards that kids must pass in order to wear them, as opposed to banning them completely. It seems like a fair compromise, but a toy that requires a child to meet certain strength and performance requirements seems like more of a liability than it’s worth. In addition, at public pools, the liability and supervision fall into the hands of the pool staff and lifeguards, who are also meant to watch several other children. Again this can lead to a disastrous outcome.

Despite all the well-intentioned safety standards Fun Fin has adhered to, the fact is the child’s legs are still bound together, creating a completely unnatural way for children to swim. Even with a swim test in place, with there being several other children to supervise, a public pool doesn’t seem like a place for a toy that could potentially put a child at a higher risk of drowning.

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