SAVANNAH Ferris has always wanted to be a mermaid.
So when her grandmother bought her a mermaid tail, she was the happiest girl on the Sunshine Coast.
The six-year-old loves spending hours at the Kings Beach pool, where her rainbow tail and mermaid-like antics capture the attention of young and old alike.
But AUSTSWIM, the national organisation for the teaching of swimming and water safety, has joined consumer advocacy group Choice to call for a ban on mermaid tails in public aquatic facilities.
AUSTSWIM CEO Jennifer Schembri-Portelli said the tails greatly restricted natural body movement and impacted on the ability to gain and maintain a position of safe breathing.
Mrs Schembri-Portelli urged parents to consider what it would feel like to have your legs tied together in the fluid and unstable water environment.
"Consider the very short amount of time it takes for drowning to occur and how panicked and traumatised your child would be if they could not breathe or recover to a safer standing position," she said.
"AUSTSWIM's appeal is for parents to also make safer decisions for their child's health, wellness and happiness in water and refrain from the temptation of mermaid tails."
Should mermaid tails be banned at public swimming pools?
This poll ended on 08 March 2016.
Yes. Things like running and diving are banned, so why should other potentially dangerous activities be allowed?
No. Children should be supervised at public pools anyway.
Parents should be responsible for supervising their children if they want to use these.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
In Victoria, the YMCA has banned mermaid tails at more than 50 of its pools throughout the state.
The Daily contacted several Coast aquatic centres and none have banned the toy.
Cotton Tree Aquatic Centre learn to swim coordinator Joanne Efendi said she had only seen a couple of children at the centre using double-fins, where you place both feet inside a rubber fin that looks similar to a fish tail.
Ms Efendi agreed they were dangerous when novice swimmers used them because of the restriction of the swimmer's legs.
"This is something only competent swimmers should use," she said.
"When we were children we didn't have anything like this and we were more than happy to pretend to be mermaids under the water without a tail.
"Children don't have the core strength in their body to deal with the added resistance of the double fin or mermaid tail and having their legs restricted.
"Parents should look at these devices for what they should be and that is an aquatic toy that should be used under adult supervision."
Savannah's mum Marianne Mattingly-Ferris said she was initially cautious after watching "that video" on YouTube, where a young girl wearing a mermaid tail appears to become stuck upside down underwater and has to be rescued by her mother.
"The first time she used it, I got into the water with her and we put a ring around her waist until she could get the hang of it and within five minutes she was swimming like a mermaid," she said.
"She was so excited to use it because she is obsessed with mermaids at the moment so this is the best toy she's had in years.
"I think as long as the children are supervised, which you would do anyway, I don't see the problem with them."
Ms Mattingly-Ferris cautioned parents considering buying a mermaid tail to research the equipment beforehand.
"I initially got her one from Big W that was hard, inflexible plastic and you can get cheaper ones on eBay but the quality wouldn't be very good at all," she said.
"With cheaper versions you have to velcro their feet into it and it would be hard to get them out quickly."
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