Enter the magnificent waterworld of the founder of South Africa’s first ever mermaid school, Izelle Nair.

To those called unique, the prize is to find the company of anyone as rare as yourself. From the age of five, when Izelle Nair’s family moved to a house with a pool, she was more in the water than out. 

“Ever since I can remember I’ve loved the water,” explains Izelle. Growing up in Namibia, she was privileged to have a river on her family’s property that she would avidly swim in, sparking her love of swimming. 

Izelle’s interest in mermaids however,  was piqued from a television show where one of the contestants was a mer-coach. After researching, she found out that she could make a career out of her love of being in the water.

Fast forward to 2020, Izelle took over a swimschool and decided that it was the perfect opportunity to bring mermaiding to South Africa. Today, with help from a friend, Nadia Walker, she now runs the country’s first ever merschool.

For a year, Izelle trained under Nadia in Learn-to-Swim artistic swimming and Mermaiding. They soon drew in accountants, schoolteachers, women and merman Champion 2021, Alessandro Aliquo.

Currently, they are preparing for a mermaiding competition that will happen in October of this year. There are ten moves that they need to master. Those moves are put into a sequence and performed to music. The ocean still to be crossed here is broadening the public’s mind about mermaiding.

“It’s challenging making this a recognisable sport, people have prejudices and preconceived ideas about mermaiding, some people think its just for play or that it is just a costume,” explains Izelle. 

We joined Izelle for a new tale fitting. When a mermaid – or man – needs a new tail, it’s to designer, Zelda Welgemoed, they turn.

It takes the dream of a mermaid who grew up in the desert, to see oceans of possibility, where others see only a pool.

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