Many people have seen the mermaids perform at Weeki Wachee, but have you ever wondered what it takes to be a mermaid?

  • Training begins one-on-one with a trainer
  • Potential new mermaids tested on swimming, comfort under water
  • Newly hired mermaids get scuba certified, practice on land first

They make it look easy, but it took a lot of work for the mermaids to nail down their moves.

They all started like this: one on one with a trainer, getting used to the water and breathing through the air hose.

Samantha McLeod has already been training for a few months, but is just now starting to use the hose.

"When I was little it looked so much easier, to just like dance and stuff in the water," Samantha said. "I didn't really think it was that hard, but keeping your toes pointed and your face and your facial expressions look good and your hands all pretty, it's actually much harder than it appears."

During the hiring process, the mermaids are tested on their swimming abilities and comfort under water.

After new mermaids are hired, staff members say they have to go through a medical evaluation, get scuba certified, and practice the moves on land before they hit the water.

Once they do get in the water, they gradually build up their time underwater in what's called "surface training."

"Surface training, I just go up and grab some air and come down and do a couple of tricks and come back up," Samantha said.

In total, it's about a six-month training process, but one Samantha told us is well worth it.

Staff members said you should be able to see Samantha performing in about three to four months. She'll have help getting ready for that big debut from her mother, who was also a Weeki Wachee mermaid.