First mermaid contest in Singapore

Finalists of the Miss Mermaid Singapore 2016 will wear mermaid tails made of polycarbonate with a neoprene cover.
Finalists of the Miss Mermaid Singapore 2016 will wear mermaid tails made of polycarbonate with a neoprene cover.PHOTO: DON WONG FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Finalists are judged on beauty, swimming skills and marine knowledge

Ms Lysandra Damara Tefinkjian, 24, a guest relations executive, has a fixation with mermaids.

"I have watched The Little Mermaid countless times and the last time I watched it was about a week ago. Some of my friends call me mermaid," she reveals.

She is one of 14 finalists, out of 61 women, who signed up for Miss Mermaid Singapore 2016, the first mermaid pageant on the island.

The beauty pageant originated in Germany in 2014, when Mr William Balser, chief executive of Euromodel Agency, was inspired during a photoshoot with models dressed as mermaids.

The pageant went on an international level last year, with contestants from places such as Australia, Thailand, the Philippines and Mexico. Miss Mermaid Singapore 2016 is organised by Eplanet, an events management company.

The winner of the Singapore pageant will receive a $2,000 cash prize and beauty products from sponsors. She will compete internationally in Soma Bay, Egypt, next month.

Members of the public can watch the Singapore winner being crowned tomorrow from 7 to 10pm at Village Hotel Changi, 1 Netheravon Road.

The contestants will be wearing their mermaid tails made of polycarbonate with a neoprene cover.

The pageant focuses on marine conservation and participants are scheduled to volunteer at the Nature Society (Singapore) Horseshoe Crab Rescue & Research Programme.

Ms Aditi Rane, 19, who is studying fashion design at Lasalle College of the Arts, was a youth marine ambassador for Underwater World Singapore when she was in secondary school, so the marine theme of the pageant appealed to her.

She says: "As a volunteer, you do things for conservation, but you do not have much influence on other people. If I win Miss Mermaid Singapore 2016, I will have more influence."

She plans to go on an expedition in December with Bali Sharks, a shark rescue, rehabilitation and release programme based in Bali, Indonesia.

The finalists, aged 18 to 26, are judged on criteria such as face, figure, interview skills where they share conservation and general knowledge, creativity in decorating their mermaid costumes, swimming skills when they complete an underwater obstacle course, creative talents such as dancing, and posing underwater.

They were taught to swim in mermaid tails by Mr Toh Zhen Yu, 23, an entrepreneur and certified lifeguard. "It is easy to swim in the mermaid style as long as you know how to swim. You need to use the core and leg muscles, and manoeuvre well with your hands," he explains.

Indeed, it came easily for Ms Rane, who knew how to swim before joining the pageant. "It was weird being bound, but after a while, it feels comfortable."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2016, with the headline 'First mermaid contest in Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe