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"Mermaiding" gets people back in the water - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

"Mermaiding" gets people back in the water

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WILLISTON, Vt. -

There's a new type of swim class making a splash in Williston.

People of all ages hit the pool each day to improve their skills in the water, but there's something fishy about this swimming lesson.

"You're in there and it's just like, I can't kick, how am I going to maneuver, I'm stuck here," said Elaine Fortin.

Fortin founded Selkie Mermaids. She's dedicated to teaching people how to swim like a mermaid fins and all. So what exactly does a mermaid lesson entail?

"Going through the movements of the mermaid undulation on deck, then in the water without the fin, then in the water with the fin," said Fortin.

Saturday's lesson at The Edge in Williston had three students.

"When I was little, I really loved Ariel," said 9-year-old Ella McDonough. She was looking for something fun to do in her last couple weeks of summer.

"Thought this might be fun, and now that I see the tails back behind me," said McDonough.

While the fascination of having a fin attracts adults to the class too, both who attended on Saturday dove in for a different reason.

"I was in a bad car accident in December and I'm recovering from a brain injury, so I've been recently permitted to do low-level, therapeutic activities. I used to be quite a swimmer and I'm not quite there yet, so this was put out there as therapeutic," said Jo Lynn Ostler.

And she wasn't the only one there for this reason.

"10 years ago I lost my leg to bone cancer," said Eileen Casey.

Casey describes herself growing up as a pool rat. She was on the swim team, dive team, and did synchronized swimming and water ballet. Since losing her leg, she's been looking at ways to get back in the water.

"When I found out about the mermaid program, that if I put a fin on, I can learn to propel myself in the water again and get that feeling of joy, going forward in the water," said Casey.

"I was thrilled, because I wanted to get into the therapeutic side of mermaiding," said Fortin.

Fortin says when Casey told her she'd be coming to the class, she made a special fin, just for her.

"There's something so mystical about mermaids, and I just think it's a great way to move through the water," said Casey.

Fortin hopes to expand the classes and teach more people how to mermaid and truly become part of that world.

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