CHILDREN will be invited to flip their fins in the water as Bolton launches its first mermaid academy.

Jo Grime, who is passionate about swimming, hopes to create 'a magical experience' for dozens of children.

Aqua Mermaid Academy, run by Ms Grime, is launching new sessions at Turton and Smithills sports centres.

New member Olivia Holt-Lowe, aged 10, said: "I love coming here and dressing as a mermaid. It's a new way of learning to swim and it's fun swimming under the water."

Director Ms Grime, who has been teaching for 17 years, said: "My passion is swimming and being in the water, and trying to get people interested in water.

"You can use it for fitness, fun and relaxation. I'm a bit of a fish!"

Ms Grime, aged 31 from Eccleston, heads up swim school IATD Fitness, which has been running for 10 years this May.

The inspiration for the academy came when a client said they had been to a mermaid experience day and really enjoyed it.

Fully-qualified teacher Ms Grime booked herself on to a training course, where she was taught about safety, new tricks and using the tail.

Ms Grime, who used to swim regionally with Bolton Metro Swimming Squad, said: "We will be running these classes in a safe and friendly way. It will be in a very controlled environment, with no more than eight per class.

"But we want to keep the magic."

Experience days will take place for children who are not necessarily strong swimmers, giving them a chance to try on the tails, get into the water and enjoy games.

While the full-length lessons will teach participants about safety, such as how to escape from the tail, methods of moving through the water, such as forward rolls and sculling, survival techniques and synchronisation.

Ms Grime added: "It is a really fun way of keeping people interested in the water and helping them build up their stamina.

"It is amazing to see how much the kids love it - just to see their faces - and how magical it is."

Weekly lessons will in Turton on Wednesdays, while experience sessions will take place on a monthly basis at Smithills on Saturday, January 27.

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