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Finns train as mermaids and mermen to live their childhood dream
Want to swim like a fantasy sea creature? At "mermaiding" classes in Finland, adult women and men swim wearing a garment that combines a monofin flipper with fabric from the waist down to create a distinctive mermaid tail. "It's my childhood dream-come-true. When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a mermaid or a dolphin but I think it's easier to become a mermaid because it's half human," Finland's first professional mermaid instructor Maija Mottonen, 28, told Reuters on a recent visit to one of her classes at a pool in Espoo, on the outskirts of Helsinki. Her ornamental pink mermaid tail and the pool's ocean-like blue color make it hard to remember that outside it is a blistering cold winter day with the ground covered in snow. Since August, Mottonen, a former kindergarten teacher, has taught more than 200 mermaids and mermen how to swim with a tail on, one of them being 29-year-old construction worker Markus Parviainen. "It's kind of magical or something," he said. He described the feeling of diving with the green tail that he had ordered online for some $195. Parviainen, who is also into cheerleading, said his merman hobby had raised some eyebrows among his coworkers when he first started but has paid little attention to what others think.