As Maxim Cover Girl, Merle Liivand Can Help the World


Competitive pool swimmer. Entrepeneur. Marathon Swimmer. Marine conservationist. Ice swimmer. Mermaid. World-record holder. Merle Liivand is all of these things and more despite not yet turning 30.

Now you can add potential cover girl but one whose ambitions lie more in preserving the oceans than sashaying down the catwalk.

Liivand has reached the last eight of a competition which would see the winner grace the cover of Maxim, a men’s magazine.

As well as featuring on the cover, the chosen model would also pick up 25,000 US dollars and – should she win – the Estonian would donate her money to organisations devoted to ocean clean-ups and water safety.


In an interview with the World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA), Liivand said:

“A cover girl (that) can help the world.”

Liivand will attempt to set a new 20km world record to add to her 10km mark while wearing the mermaid fin and without taking a stroke but instead with her arms extended.

She explained:

“So 2020 is already different I think around the world for every human.

“The break that we had with the pandemic is teaching the humans so much about the oceans hopefully but we still need to take care of our oceans today not thinking about 2030 about it.

“So it clicked with me if I was able to do 10k maybe I am able to do 20k with my mermaid fin and why not do it on 20 August when it is actually Independence Day for Estonia – 20 August is when we got freedom from the Soviet Union so all the numbers were talking to me.”

Liivand is based at the Dolphins and Rainbows club in Miami, United States, where she is training for the August record attempt, weighted down in the ocean to mirror the effect of her shoulders getting tired during the event.

Around her as she trains are dolphins, turtles and sharks and even mother and baby stingrays.

She is passionate about marine conservation – in and out of the ocean – and with her club leads beach clean-ups before heading into the water with a mesh bag on her training swims in which she and her fellow club swimmers deposit trash they find.


Photo Courtesy: Merle Liivand

Liivand has just celebrated the first anniversary of the inception of a beauty range, called Viking Beauty Secrets.

All the ingredients are natural – including Icelandic volcanic ash – and the packaging is sustainable.

At home in the water, Liivand is a huge advocate of mermaid swimming, describing it as the fifth stroke.

She said:

“If you look at Mr Michael Phelps why he is so good is his underwaters and kicking there – the dolphin kick but I call it the mermaid kick.

“My whole passion started to educate and advocate for swimming for kids and adults that ‘hey listen – you still can learn to swim. You don’t have to be Michael Phelps but if you have a passion to become a mermaid and learn the fifth stroke let’s go for it, let’s start learning that’.

“And from there I realised I am really passionate to be living that mermaid lifestyle where you love to be in the ocean, you love to take care of mother earth, you love to accept everybody – it doesn’t matter what shape or size – if you’re a professional swimmer, or you’re a triathlete, or ice swimmer.”



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