Local mermaid brings smiles to Wave Pool visitors
For a group of young kids swimming in the Wave Pool alongside their parents, it was an uncommon sight. Their eyes grew big and smiles came over their faces even if they were a bit unsure of what they were seeing was real or not. Was there really a mermaid in the Wave Pool?
Just ask Veronica Ibanez. Veronica, a ninth grader at Mont Harmon Junior High, has been embracing the persona of a mermaid, donning a bathing suit and a tail to complete the ensemble. In the handful of times she has been out in the Wave Pool as a mermaid, Veronica said she has seen nothing but smiling faces and people intrigued by what they were looking at.
A fan of the Little Mermaid movie growing up and having a passion for swimming her whole life, becoming a mermaid was an easy transition for Veronica, 14.
"I was just looking around on the internet and saw some things about mermaids," she said. "I've always wanted to swim as a mermaid and be one."
With help from her mother Karen, Veronica was able to find the materials necessary online to get a tail to become a mermaid. Soon after, it was getting out into the pool and testing things out. But just getting the tail on requires a little bit of work. Veronica puts a fin on her feet while her mother helps pull the tail, made of neoprene or fabric, over the fin up to her waist. The work must be done next to the pool as walking with the tail is no easy task.
But once she leaps into the pool, Veronica becomes a mermaid. Using a few kicks from the tail, Veronica is able to glide through the water.
"It's just like wearing a swimming suit," Veronica explained. "The speed of going through the water with the tail is what makes it fun."
"Swimming is her passion," said Karen as she watched from the sideline. "She's been swimming most of her life and she just lights up out there in the water."
In her free time, Veronica said she likes to volunteer helping young children to swim including those who may have a fear of swimming. One of her pupils, 5-year-old Gianna Valdez, came with her mother Kelly Valdez just to see Veronica in the mermaid outfit for the first time. As Veronica moved around in the water, Gianna watched intently with a look of amazement on her face focusing on the tail as it helped propel Veronica from the depths of the pool and back to the surface.
"It was pretty cute to see," said Kelly of Gianna's reaction to seeing Veronica as a mermaid.
Other children in the Wave Pool stopped and watched as Veronica swam by. Many wanted to touch and feel the tail while some, including one young girl who was a little frightened, were content with watching from afar.
"It's just something fun to do for me and the kids seem to like it" Veronica said.
Veronica said she is looking to use her mermaid outfit for occasions including birthday parties, charity events and other special events at the Wave Pool. For more information about having Veronica appear in her mermaid outfit at an event, contact Karen Ibanez at 613-0500.