Weeki Wachee holds 1st round of mermaid auditions

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For those who grew up watching the little mermaid and dreaming of swimming the seas – Saturday was a very big day.

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is looking to add to its famous troop of mermaids and 250 women, and a few men, braved the cold to audition.

They each bring something unique to the table but were all chasing the same dream.

It was the first leg of a 3-part audition process.

But those who braved the spring on Saturday meant business and this taste of mermaid life meant being one step closer to a dream come true.

“Definitely trying to stay warm and make sure all my fingers and toes stay warm and don't go numb,” mermaid hopeful Taylor Cunningham said.

Being a mermaid isn’t for the faint of heart or health. Current Weeki Wachee Springs Mermaid Cheyenne Bragg says the candidates are getting the hard part out of the way.

"The swim test is definitely the hardest part in my opinion. It's a lot of endurance and as mermaids, it's really hard for us because we don't do this every day. We're taught to be graceful and pretty and don't really swim on the surface," she said.

Of those 100-plus contestants, only 40 passed Saturday’s round of swim tests. They'll go on to the second round of auditions.

Mermaid Manager Amanda Luter said the work really begins after the auditions.

"It's about a year to learn one show part of our show so that's including all of our safety training - how to breathe on the underwater air hose, how to make yourself feel comfortable, smiling, the facials, singing underwater,” she said. “So it takes about a year to learn one show part and another year to learn all of the show parts for our shows to really reach that mermaid status, which is our premier performers."

There are only eight spots up for grabs on this elite underwater team.