HELENA — On Tuesday, 1889 Coffee House hosted a Miss Mermaid Montana meet and greet to celebrate International Mermaid Day.
Faith Conaway, also known as Rapunzel Melody while mermaiding, got into the craft after getting her BFA in musical theatre and starting Dream Upon a Princess, where she performs as princesses, mermaids, and superheroes.
“The mermaid thing came in and me and my friend wanted to be top-notch mermaids. So we got lifeguard certified, we started teaching mermaid lessons, and then I saw that Miss Mermaid was a thing, and I have all the qualifications and so I decided to apply,” Conaway said.
But mermaiding and their competitions aren’t always a walk on the beach. Conaway says part of the Miss Mermaid competitions, the breath hold, can be extremely hard.
“You have to swim as far as you can in one breath. Some of these girls can hold their breath for six minutes,” she said.
Conaway says that the key to the breath hold and performing underwater is mind-body control and relaxation. She hopes that one day she’ll be able to get certified to scuba dive in her tail. But for now, she snorkels in the local rivers and lakes looking for tackle and garbage she can clean up.
Other aspects of mermaid competitions include underwater posing, performance, creativity, and activism. One of Conaway’s favorite competitions included making eco-friendly mermaid tops.
But her favorite part of her mermaiding duties comes outside the competitions.
“The most rewarding part, obviously, is that I love kids so much. So, I just love getting to reach out to kids and teach them about conservation, how we can take care of our beautiful place that we live in. People don’t understand how beautiful Montana is, it really is a gift from God.”