Mermaid Ina teaches young students the art of "mermaiding." She teaches students of all ages.

By Nur Suleiman

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a mermaid? At Ina’s Mermaid School, you will have the chance to do just that.

Karen Tickner is also known by her mermaid name, Ina, which means “to illuminate.” She started her school a year and a half ago.

Tickner got the idea after studying under Heather Reynolds from Kona Mermaid School, which is also a bed and breakfast in Hawaii. On the plane ride home, Tickner, a licensed freediving instructor, drew up the business plans for Ina’s Mermaid School.

Tickner discovered mermaiding after going through a tough time in her life.

She said, “When I found mermaiding, it allowed me to experience a powerful sense of femininity. In legends, mermaids were more than just Ariel. They represent strength and honoring femininity.”

At Ina’s Mermaid School, children six and up and adults of any age can learn how to be a mermaid.

Tickner said, “Mermaiding is a community. Mermaids come in all shapes and sizes. My oldest student was actually 75.”

At Ina’s Mermaid School, students learn safety skills, monofin swimming, basic and advanced skills, synchronized moves and how to swim with a tail on. You do not need a tail before you join the class, the school offers tail rentals as well as tails for you to purchase.

The first few classes you take make sure the basics of swimming are down, then monofin swimming progressing to swimming with a full tail on, which takes some getting used to.

Tickner said, “With both adults and kids alike, once they get the tail on for the first time, they freak out.”

When you are enrolled in mermaid classes, you get a mermaid name.

Tickner said, “One thing I ask everyone is, ‘what is their mermaid name?’ With kids, they act like it’s the most important question of their lives. With adults, I tell them that it’s their alternate persona. It’s all about being free and having a good time.”

After completing the class, adults can either train under Mermaid Ina to become mermaid instructors or just swim with other mermaids as a part of one of her weekly meetups.

Ina’s Mermaid School is located in various locations around the Tampa Bay area. For more information, call 727-489-4526, email inathemermaid@gmail.com or visit www.inasmermaidschool.com/.