Naomi Trott spends her weekends putting smiles on the faces of children, as she travels the country working as a performance mermaid.
The ‘real-life Ariel’ takes part in aquarium displays – often swimming alongside sharks, rays and sea turtles.
What’s more, the talented 34-year-old can even hold her breath for four minutes.
Naomi dedicates three days a week to this hobby and works the rest of the time as an archaeologist and senior cultural heritage consultant.
And, despite having to undergo five hours of intense training every week, Naomi says she loves seeing the reaction from children – and was moved when one youngster told her mum: ‘Mummy look there’s a ginger mermaid like me.’
She explains: ‘It’s incredible seeing children’s faces light up when they see a real-life mermaid, it’s magical.
‘I’m really lucky that my day job is flexible to allow me to do this part-time.’
But, Naomi stresses that being a mermaid is actually incredibly hard work.
She add: ‘When you’re there in the tank you can be cold, it’s physically tiring, but when you go down there and you see a little kid in front of you just absolutely losing it and they’re waving it’s wonderful.
‘In order to maintain that level of breathhold to be able to do the performances, you need to train regularly. Lots of training goes into it and you have to keep it up in order to be ready to do shows.
‘You can’t just have a month off so I train three times a week in the pool and I also do cardio and strength workouts just to maintain that level of background fitness to be able to do that.
‘My personal best holding my breath underwater is four minutes and seven seconds.’
Naomi has always been a natural water baby and loved swimming as a child, so was already familiar with the doing the mermaid-style butterfly stroke and dolphin kicks.
As an adult, she trained and got her first AIDA (Association Internationale pour le Développement de l’Apnée) qualification in 2019 – and then received her three-star freediving qualification in October with Bristol Freedivers.
She took her first dive into a tank as a mermaid with Performance Mermaids at Manchester Sealife in December 2019 and hasn’t looked back since.
‘It was thrilling and exciting entering my first tank as a mermaid, but I was quite nervous too,’ she adds.
‘We usually have a 20-min shift with two mermaids. One will go down [into the tank] and then come up to breathe for air, then the other will go down.
‘Sometimes it involves going down to the window, waving, blowing bubble kisses or ones with a tunnel we swim along the top of a tunnel but it’s very much tailored to the environment.’
Naomi adds that she’s always mindful of the animals that she works with and they always take priority.
She continues: ‘There are rays, sharks and turtles in the tanks. The first time we go into a tank we are given a briefing by the aquariast telling us about what animals are in there and potential risks.
‘Usually the animals give us a wide berth but some are very curious.
‘We have to be careful with what we wear – that there’s no glitter or beads or things that could fall off that could harm the creatures in the aquarium.
‘I don’t wear make-up because it’s just easier. We have to be careful about what we wear – we are guests in the animals’ home so they take priority over what we want to wear.’
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