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Masquerading mermaids: Denton’s mermaid club welcomes all

Masquerading mermaids: Denton’s mermaid club welcomes all

Founder of the Mermaids of Denton, Rayne Riverstone assists Czeslawa Kays with putting on her tail. The Mermaids of Denton meet up this year took place on April 14, 2018.

Masquerading mermaids: Denton’s mermaid club welcomes all
April 19
00:14 2018

Many people think of mermaids as mythical creatures who flirt with Peter Pan, lure sailors to their deaths and star in fictional Animal Planet documentaries. But little do they know, they can often be found in the Denton pools and waterparks.

The mermaid community consists of people from all around the globe who enjoy swimming and/or cosplaying as a mermaid or merman. They swim with monofins, which sometimes include colorful fabric tails enveloping the legs, and cost anywhere from around $50 for a basic monofin to hundreds of dollars for a higher end model.

“When I was six, I saw The Little Mermaid, and I loved to swim too,” said Rayne Riverstone, founder of Mermaids of Denton. “Every time I went in the water, I just swam as a mermaid. Unfortunately, we grew up kind of poor, so I had to wait until I was an adult and have a job of my own, and then I could buy my own fin.”

Mermaids of Denton was founded five years ago by Riverstone as a way for her to connect with other people within the mermaid community. She took the initiative and created the group when she moved to Denton and realized there was not already a group in place. The group is growing and now has around 80 members who participate in the monthly Mer-Meets.

“I think everyone has their own reasons,” Riverstone said. “I swim because I just love swimming, and I love doing it. I like seeing everyone’s face when they go, ‘Oh my goodness! There’s a mermaid, wow.’ Especially the kids — the little ones — go, ‘Mom, look. It’s a mermaid, it’s a mermaid! Oh my goodness!’ It really just makes their day.”

Riverstone loves to inspire children to live out their mermaid fantasies just as she was inspired as a child. She comes to the pool prepared with monofins for both children and adults to give mermaiding a try.

“I have a ton of monofins,” Riverstone said. “Maybe not a ton, but I do try to have a lot so that everybody can get a turn to try and see if they like being a mermaid, and obviously they do. They beg their parents to buy them a tail, and then next month you’ve got new little mermaids swimming in the pool.”

The first children Riverstone inspired were her own. She has three girls and one boy, all of whom are learning to swim with the tails. Her eldest daughter, 11-year-old Czeslawa Kays, began swimming without a fin at 2 months old and with a fin at around age 4 or 5.

“I like hanging out with my mom and being a mermaid,” Kays said. “I like swimming with tails, but now that I can actually swim with tails underwater, I like doing tricks. I do like the air blow kiss — a bubble kiss — and I’m trying to do it where you blow it and there’s a little ring coming out.”

However, Riverstone is inspiring more than children. While many of them love mermaiding, so do many adults. The mermaid community is comprised mainly of adults from all age demographics and genders and is growing every week.

Jacquelyn Krogulski, a pre-med biology junior at UNT, purchased her first monofin recently and has been using it on a tri-weekly basis.

“I’ve been swimming since I was little,” Krogulski said. “I grew up in a resort, so mermaiding kind of came naturally to me. As soon as I found out that you could actually do this as a normal person, I went and bought my tail, and I was like, ‘Yes!’”

Several of the mermaids agree that the hobby has become more mainstream in recent years, largely thanks to movies and popular culture. 

“I remember growing up, there were not a lot of people really getting together and doing this,” said Malie Long, a 31-year-old stay-at-home mom and member of Mermaids of Denton. “Now that it’s getting a little more out there, there’s more groups, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Many people interested in mermaiding are concerned with the difficulty of learning to swim with a monofin, but most of the members agree the feeling comes almost naturally.

“It was like I was born to do it,” Long said. “It was not hard. I think growing up when you are a little girl or boy, you just do it when you swim. It comes naturally to you if you love it, and so I think growing up pretending definitely helps you get there.”

Whether a person has always wanted to be a mermaid, or they just saw “The Little Mermaid” for the first time last week, the Mermaids of Denton maintain that they are all-inclusive and excited to meet new people.

“We accept everybody,” Riverstone said. “I’m like Jesus, everybody is welcome, you know. Come and be part of our group [and] if you don’t have a tail, that’s OK. I will hook you up with a tail. If you have the heart of a mermaid, you are a mermaid.”

Featured Image: Rayne Riverstone, founder of the Mermaids of Denton, assists Czeslawa Kays with putting on her tail. The Mermaids of Denton meet up this year took place on Saturday. Ashley Gallegos

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Slade Meadows

Slade Meadows

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