Tracey O’Dell always wanted to be a mermaid. With My Mermaid Adventure, she is making her childhood dream come true.
“I felt like I was born to be a mermaid,” she said. “If this had existed when I was a kid, I would have been the happiest kid in the world.”
My Mermaid Adventure gives children and adults the opportunity to experience what it would be like to be a mermaid by wearing special tails and learning to swim using a dolphin kick. Novice mermaids sometimes receive a mini makeover.
The idea for the business grew out of O’Dell’s passion, which is shared by her 11-year-old daughter, Nevaeh.
“My daughter and I loved mermaids,” O’Dell said. “When we found out there were swimmable tails, we got so excited. We wanted to share our passion with everybody and spend time as a family.”
After tweaking their plan for a couple years, the O’Dells signed up their first customers this summer. They go to local pools for private lessons, birthday parties and special events.
“Nevaeh is my business partner and model,” O’Dell said. “She is a huge part of our business. … She’s an expert swimmer in the fin, and she makes it look easy.”
In reality, being a mermaid is a lot of work.
“The tails can be heavy,” she said. “It usually takes kids at least one class to acclimate to the dolphin kick technique. We do it step by step.”
O’Dell, who is a registered nurse and a former lifeguard, is in the water with her mermaids at all times. Mermaids need to be strong swimmers to succeed.
Recently, the O’Dells launched a Mermaid Club for ages 6 to 11. The first club is timed to accommodate home-schoolers, but O’Dell hopes to have enough interest to add clubs outside of typical school hours.
“Right now the club is all home-school kids. Six mermaids come together weekly to swim, play games – anything mermaidy. Now they all look like pros and can all do tricks. Some of them are born to be mermaids and have been waiting their whole life.
“We have a merboy, too.”
For younger wannabe mermaids, O’Dell will take pictures in tails and do special makeovers.
“The littles can experience it in a different way,” she said.
Adult tails are available for the more mature mermaids and mermen to try.
“I think this mermaid thing uses the right side of my brain, and the nursing uses the left,” O’Dell said. “For me, it’s just fun. I get to be creative.”
In the future, O’Dell would like to partner with a local pool to offer My Mermaid Adventure year-round.
“We just want to inspire people to keep going after their dreams,” O’Dell said.
She said the support of her husband and her children has been key. Her 4-year-old son, Max, is working on his swimming skills so that he can earn his merboy status.
“I thought of giving up so many times,” O’Dell said. “Something just kept pushing me. It’s what I’m meant to do.”
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