WEEKI WACHEE SPRINGS, Fla. — Some people may think that becoming a Weeki Wachee mermaid is just putting on a tail and getting in the water, but a lot more goes into it.
This is Ashleigh Gordon's third time auditioning to become a Weeki Wachee mermaid.
"From the time I was a little girl I’ve wanted to become a mermaid here and I believe if you have your heart set on something you can do it," said Ashleigh.
She and 30 others auditioned to see if they have what it takes to be a mermaid — which is a lot.
The first test is a 400-yard swim that has to be completed in under 16 minutes.
"And you’re going with the current and against the current so that can throw you off," said Stayce McConnell, Mermaid Supervisor.
McConnell has been a Weeki Wachee mermaid for 17 years.
"There’s nothing else like it in the world," said McConnell.
Because it takes a lot of skill to smile, swim and sing all while breathing through a tube underwater for up to 30 minutes with your legs bound.
"You have to really be dedicated because there is a lot of training," said McConnell.
Dedicated to training, like Ashleigh who passed the swim test, which usually weeds a lot of people out.
"I come here every week, it could be 50 degrees outside and raining, and I still come here to swim," said Ashliegh.
The next part of the audition is performance underwater.
"We watch from the theater view and we see you smile and swim, ballet moves, breath holding, and just see how comfortable you are and look underwater," said McConnell.
If they’re able to pass that portion then they’ll move onto the next round of auditioning and training. And they don’t earn a tail for a while.
"The tail will be a few months into the process because you’ve got to be ready for that," said McConnell.
And auditioners like Ashleigh don’t care that the gig only pays $12 an hour because they're not doing it for the pay.
"If I could make this dream come true, I don’t know what to say, it would just mean everything," said Ashleigh.
Auditioners will find out next week if they will move on to the next round of auditions.