A wild water enthusiast has revealed how she was so keen to swim like a fish she made her own fully-functioning mermaid costume.
Elisa Morrison has embraced the life aquatic by constructing her own elaborate fishtail and spent the last year combining her love of deep diving into Scottish lochs and seas with her talent for arts and crafts to transform herself into the mythical creature.
Despite the bracing conditions, mermaiding, says Morrison – also known as The Elaborate Swimmer – is an ideal form of relaxation. “It’s an amazingly efficient way to move in the water. I suppose there’s a reason why dolphins and whales are designed the way they are,” she says. “The way they propel themselves in the water for me feels completely natural. It’s a beautiful way to move.
“You are very free and, with your hair flowing, it really does feel quite sublime.
“The movement is the beautiful part. The way you can slice through the water is where I get the enjoyment from.”
Originally from South Africa, Morrison, who now lives near Fort William, grew up on a farm hours from the beach. Trips to the ocean, she says, were special and led to her love of nature and wild swimming.
“I love Greek mythology, I find them very rich, beautiful stories,” she adds. “In my mind I want to be a part of the legend or history.
“Scotland is renowned for Nessie and kelpies and selkies and all these wonderful tales.
“Somewhere the lines became blurred for me. I went from wild swimming to swimming elaborately to sort of swimming mythologically.
“I enjoy putting on the costume. It makes me feel like part of the landscape and tapestry of nature.”
Morrison created her mermaid costume with the help of modern diving equipment as well as treasures found while beachcombing on Scotland’s west coast.
“I wanted the costume to be both practical and aesthetic so I started with neoprene material and a monofin,” she said. “That’s a single fin like you see free divers use. The fin is inside the neoprene casing.
“I needed something durable that would look quite mermaidy and an old pale blue plastic tablecloth I once used for a party was perfect. I fashioned the fin part from that.
“The fake pearls are from an old necklace I found in a charity shop and a broken chandelier, and the shells on my crown are ones I found on the beach.
“My husband thinks I’m completely crazy, of course.”
It’s not just Morrison’s partner who thinks her hobby is a little odd. Passers-by who stumble on her mermaid act have a mixed reaction.
“I don’t see many people as I tend to swim in remote areas,” she says. “One day recently I was on the beach and swimming around when a couple appeared and saw me.
“I’m quite friendly and would have been happy to explain what I was doing so I gave them a wave, but they literally turned around and ran away!”
An Instagram page, The Elaborate Swimmer, documents Morrison’s deep diving exploits.
She is currently working on how to make her full costume and regalia even more practical.
“I’ll have to work on an aquatic version of a crown,” she adds. “They don’t really want to stay on my head when I’m underwater!”
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