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‘Eco-Mermaid’ Swims Marathon to Fight Plastic Pollution

By: Ethan & Connie Cao

Fighting to end plastic pollution, Merle Liivand broke her own world record by swimming a marathon in Florida with a single fin. As a child, the Australian athlete’s health and breathing problems lead her to start swimming. Swimming became her passion and she participated in many swimming contests.

Eleven years ago, Merle moved to Miami, where she continued her daily routine of swimming in the ocean. One day, while swimming, she almost swallowed some plastic floating in the ocean. This led her to think of all the living sea animals, like whales and otters, and the danger they face. Liivand decided to swim a marathon to make people recognize plastic pollution, which she refers to as, the “plastic pandemic.”

Surprisingly, just swimming usually wasn’t enough for Liivand. she wanted to swim like a sea creature by attaching one fin to both of her legs. This technique is called the “monofin,” The monofin looks a little like a duck’s foot, and is reminiscent of a mermaid’s tail. “Swimming with the monofin without using my arms is similar to how dolphins and marine animals swim,” says Ms. Liivand. According to her, it sends a “bigger message”.

Ms. Liivand fset the world record for swimming with a monofin in 2019, when she swam 6.2 miles off the coast of California. In 2020, she broke the record again by swimming 12.8 miles, this time in Miami, Florida. However, after all her effort, she knew that she can still do better. As she swims the marathon, the sea creatures, big and small, greet her along the way.

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