Scuba Diver Editor-in-Chief Mark Evans chatted to Linden Wolbert, who has found fame as one of the most-successful professional mermaids in the business, but how did she get started?
Q: When did you first get into freediving?
A: I learned about the sport of freediving in 2004, tried a monofin for the first time in 2005, and then trained with PFI and got my Advanced Freediver rating. I then travelled to Tokyo with the US Freediving Team for a televised competition in November
Q: When did you first don a mermaid’s tail, and did you expect to become a professional mermaid?
A: The first time I tried on a monofin was when Mandy-Rae Cruickshank-Crack let me try hers on in Grand Cayman after she finished her dives for the day during the Sink Faze
Q: What events and shoots do you get involved with as a professional mermaid?
A: I have such a wide range of things I do as a mermaid. My ethos is to educate and inspire children to learn about and protect our oceans. My YouTube series, Mermaid Minute, has garnered millions of views and continues to be the project I am most proud of.
I began my career doing high-end parties and events in Hollywood, which really took off quickly. Since I was the only mermaid performing in Los Angeles, word got around rapidly about my company. I swiftly gained a list of A-list clientele, which has made for some ‘mermazing’ experiences and stories! I have many repeat clients today who have hired me since my humble beginnings in 2005. I also began swimming with their children, who are my favourite audience. I do birthday parties, al-fresco hotel rooftop pool parties, aquarium swims, commercial events, fundraisers and charity benefits, you name it. In addition, I have done underwater stunt doubling for films and commercials. Perhaps my favourite performances as a mermaid have been granting wishes for ill children around the world with life-threatening conditions. I have done wishes in the US, as well as Scotland and Australia, with a handful of non-profits
Q: Back to that amazing tail. What are the most-important attributes for a mermaid’s tail, and how was your tail constructed?
A: I am a minimalist. I like things to look simple and sleek… and my mermaid tail is no exception. I dreamed of creating a tail that was very realistic, hiding my legs and heels very effectively. I desired a tail built for speed and endurance, that would withstand all manner of challenging environments
We created a mould of my body, and then sculpted clay around a fiberglass replica of my legs. A large negative mould of that clay tail was created after we hand-sculpted the entire thing, scale by scale. It was painstaking. We injected a medical-grade silicone into the mould with some neoprene and a customised monofin and voila… (well, I really simplified the process for you here!) we had a gorgeous, realistic, resilient mermaid tail that lasted me for almost ten years! Tail 2.0 was created from the same mould by Vincent Van Dyke Effects. I am still using that tail today!
Q: What is your most-memorable experience as a professional mermaid?
A: My most-memorable experience… gosh… there are really two. The first was granting a wish for a little girl called Lauren Cosgrove in Scotland. I swam out of the frigid waters of Loch Lomond
The second most-memorable experience was swimming with whalesharks for the first time in Mexico. It was a dream come true, and being in the water next to those gorgeous, mammoth animals completely took my breath away. Just incredible!
Q: What is your most-embarrassing experience as a professional mermaid?
A: Hmmm. Great question! I’ve never had a wardrobe malfunction (thank goodness!) and I truly love what I do. I mean… I guess being asked to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Justin Timberlake at his surprise birthday party was quite embarrassing… since I have a horrible
Q: You host the Mermaid Minute educational videos, and work tirelessly to promote the undersea world to children. Why are kids so important to you?
A: Yes! Mermaid Minute and ocean ‘edutainment’ is my passion. I fell in love with the oceans from afar. I grew up in landlocked Pennsylvania, and my only window into the ocean was the TV. I watched PBS, namely. I was enchanted by Jacques Yves Cousteau, NOVA, and wildlife documentaries from the BBC.
Q: You worked with BodyGlove to create a child’s monofin. What was that experience like, and how have they been received?
A: I partnered with BodyGlove in 2013 and designed my signature kid’s swim line, complete with monofins, PFDs (personal float devices)
Q: What does the future hold for Mermaid Linden?
A: Based on my career history, anything is possible! My wildest dreams have been granted beyond expectation. Opportunities have come up beyond my wildest imagination! I sometimes reflect back over the past decade or so and cannot believe how much has happened… where I’ve travelled, the people I’ve met, the work I have produced, the children I have smiled with. And yet, there is so much more I’d love to do! My ultimate dream for the future is to have a full-length ocean educational programme for children both online and on network television. And that’s just the start! We’ll have to ‘sea’ where the currents take me, I suppose…
Photographs by Ric Frazier, Greg Browning, Stephan Whelan/deeperblue.com and courtesy of Mermaids in Motion LLC