Barbara Wynns


Early image of Weeki Wachee Springs swimming area and parking lot, taken sometime between 1948 and 1960.

Barbara Wynns grew up in the small railroad town of Wildwood, Florida, in the 1950s. Barbara's father was a swimmer and the family spent many days at various springs playing and having picnics. Her father enjoyed swimming into the crevaces of the springs and finding coins that visitors tossed in or items people had lost. "We had a treasure box of stuff over the years that he got at Salt Springs." Barbara likewise fell in love with springs at a very young age. "So at two years old, I'm told, I grabbed his [her father's] neck and went to the bottom of that spring with him and then swam up. So that ice cold, icey blue water was just a friend to me. Not the oceans. Not the lakes. I just happened to know that anywhere I was I got the same feeling that I eventually got at Weeki. It's just being right in the middle of ice cold water with a little air hose at 25 feet. Not many people get to do that. So past the allure of Weeki Wachee and past the misery of being cold all the time, there was the magic in water, you know what I'm saying. And so, mine just came full circle." When she found out that she could turn that love of being in the water into a career, she was determined. "Once I saw the show, I had to be a Weeki Wachee Mermaid. All my friends were going to college and getting, planning their weddings. I wasn't gonna get married. Wasn't gonna have babies. I wasn't going to go to college. I was gonna be a mermaid. And one time when I was in my thirties I was like, "What if they hadn't hired you?" I had not made a good report card, 'cause I knew where I was going, you know."