A real-life mermaid who lives on an island had to swim in the sea as lochs froze over for the first time in nearly 20 years.
Kate Macleod, 24, has been splashing around in a monofin for eight years.
She has a custom-made tail costing £300, but started out aged 16 with a second-hand monofin she bought on eBay for £30.
Growing up in Uig on the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, she came to love splashing about in water – and found she could tolerate very cold temperatures even as a child.
With temperatures dipping to the lowest in 26 years, recently Kate has been swimming in the sea as lochs have frozen over during heavy snowfall.
Kate said: “The weather has been very cold recently but it’s not stopped me from swimming.
“People often think winter is a miserable month when we have to stay indoors, but if you’re prepared for it, and used to it like I am you don’t have to be.
“We haven’t had snow on the island in such a long time and it must be 15 years since the lochs have frozen over so I swam in the sea the past few weeks.”
She has two monofins but hopes to get another tail in the summer, costing around £100, to make the most of the transparent waters surrounding the island – but said she is not motivated by the aesthetics.
The monofins and tails are made from spandex to be ultra-flexible.
Kate, who works as a TV editor, even makes extra cash from her passion, and has appeared in adverts as a mermaid.
She said: “I wouldn’t say it’s something I chose to do, I think it was something that was built into me.
“I’ve always loved the sea and I remember playing with my cousins at the beach when we were children and they’d run out the water saying it was too cold and I’d just be laying there.
“I’ve never thought of this as being strange.
“It’s not about aesthetics, it’s more about a sense of belonging I get when I wear it and enjoy the beauty and atmosphere of the ocean as a mermaid.
“It helps me feel closer to the environment.
“I’m not deterred by the cold weather either, I know the waters I swim in and I never feel unsafe.”
Myths and legends fascinated her as a child and Kate feels safe swimming with her legs strapped together.
Kate said: “I just have two monofins now and I mainly use the custom made one which I got as a birthday present.
“I hope to get another one this summer, my custom made one is a really good quality.
“It would’ve cost around £300.
“It sounds daunting to some swimming with your feet strapped together, but it’s really enjoyable.”
She has also filmed a documentary about being a mermaid for the BBC.
Kate said: “I’m not the only one in Scotland who does this, it’s more popular than people might think.
“I’ve been in adverts for local companies such as the Essence of Harris who make candles based on local beaches.
“I absolutely love it.”
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