COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–What better way to celebrate the end of summer than with swimming?
With the new school year beginning, many families will be planning one last summer hurrah. But the rise of popularity for one swimming device has some parents and injury experts concerned.
In the past year, pools and vacations spots abroad have been seeing the emergence of “mermaid suits.” Not everyone is excited about the rising popularity of the summertime toy.
“It looks like a little girl’s dream come true. . . But it’s a bad idea,” says Lara McKenzie, Ph.D, associate professor at Nationwide Children’s Hospital Center for Injury Research and Policy.
The swimming device is made of fabric, and extends from the waist to the feet. It has a fin on the end, and makes the swimmer look–and swim–like a mermaid.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital started looking into the suits after parents began to ask about the safety aspects. But with the suits being relatively new, there isn’t much data to go on.
McKenzie says there are inherent problems with the mermaid suit. Primarily, the legs and feet are constricted while the swim device is being worn.
“The suits keep you from righting yourself while in the water,” said McKenzie.
Also, the person wearing the suit must hop around the pool to get to the water.
While no formal study has been conducted by Nationwide Children’s Hospital, injury experts are not alone in their view of the device.
Tom Jones, director of operations at the Northwest Swim Club says, “We currently have no policy regarding the suits but are working toward one.”
The swim club has only seen one of the suits at the pool this season and asked the member to remove it for safety reasons.
The Grandview Municipal Pool has seen some suits this summer. Lifeguards have asked those wearing them to remain in the shallow end of the pool.
Jacob Smith, pool manager, says the Grandview pool maintains the policy of allowing any swim device that is Coast Guard Approved.
NBC4 was unable to identify any such mermaid suits that are approved by the USCG.
Experts at Nationwide Children’s Hospital recommend that parents purchase normal swim fins for their children as they allow feet and legs to move freely.
NBC4 will provide any updates to this story as they become available.