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15 Secrets Real-Life Mermaids Won't Tell You

BuzzFeed News spoke to a "mermaid" from the Netherlands about life underwater, her training regime, and what she loves most about being half human, half fish.

Hanna van der Gaag is a 23-year-old "mermaid" from the Netherlands.

On land, van der Gaag is a dance teacher, but once she gets in the water she's "Hanna the Mermaid". Van der Gaag performs in pools for special events and children's parties, and she's been travelling round the country for a year.

BuzzFeed News caught up with the Dutch mermaid and here are some of the things we learnt.

1. Some mermaids are more famous than others.

Mermaid Hannah from LA is also an ocean activist, aiming to raise awareness of the ocean and its animal life.

2. For van der Gaag, being a mermaid isn’t about activism.

"When I swim, I’m totally in the moment and I don’t think about anything else," van der Gaag told BuzzFeed News. For her, becoming a mermaid is a form of relaxation.

3. Having said that, swimming like a mermaid requires a lot of training.

Van der Gaag trains three times a week in a swimming pool, and during her practice she'll wear the mermaid tail, also known as a "monofin".

4. The mermaid tail isn't as heavy as you'd expect, but it's quite tricky to manoeuvre.

5. Being a mermaid is an expensive profession.

6. You might not be able to do it full-time.

7. Being a bit DIY-savvy will allow you to cut the costs.

8. It takes *at least* 15 minutes to get ready before a performance.

Van der Gaag explained the process:

Inside the mermaid tail I have to wear rubber socks. The part of the tail that holds my feet is made of rubber, which feels quite stiff. The socks help to keep everything in place. After I've put them on I pull the fabric up to my waist, and then I have to make sure that stays put too.

9. You will need some assistance.

10. It's important to hone an elegant swimming technique.

11. Be prepared to work with children.

12. Some kids will find you a bit scary.

13. The best part of being a mermaid is that you get the best of both worlds.

14. Of course, not everyone will "get" what you're doing.

15. And finally, "mermaiding" is already taking off as a global trend.