THOSE of us who thought mermaids didn't exist have been proven wrong by a gym that has revealed their very own sub-aquatic princess.

BSAC Snorkel Instructor Hayley Keen has recently been crowned Miss Mermaid Worcestershire and is looking forward to the UK national finals in September.

Mrs Keen, from South Littleton had always been fascinated by mermaid from a young age and when she got bought a tail a couple of years ago, she thought, "why not give it a go?" There was one small problem. She wasn’t a strong swimmer and hadn’t even snorkelled before, let alone with a mono fin. Ms Keen reached out to Facebook to ask if there was anywhere that she could practice with her new fin. ESAC’s training officer, OWI and Complete Spas owner Pete Grinnall replied saying they would be glad to have a wannabe mermaid join them on their club night and give her a few pointers.

Mrs Keen, 29 said when she first went along: “I wasn’t sure how I would be received, being what some people regard as being an odd thing to do, but Pete and the rest of the ESAC members took me under their fin, I’m so lucky to have found such a friendly club.”

Pete Grinnall said: “Hayley fitted into the club straight away, her “I’m a mermaid get over it attitude” made us all smile”.Pete asked her if she would be interested in the BSAC snorkel course, within a few weeks she was a qualified snorkeller. This February she attended BSACs SITCA two-day course, passed with flying colours and is now a recognised BSAC Snorkel Instructor.

Mrs Keen said “I felt it was a small gift that I could give back to the club, I loved the course and it was a fun two days where my confidence was given a big boost. To think 18 months previously I was a weak swimmer at best and had never worn a mask. The course also focusses on more of a freediving aspect of things, with breath control and the ability to hold your breath effectively but most of all, safely, which I take a real interest in.

Mrs Keen entered this year’s 'Miss Mermaid UK' competition, where not only do mermaids get the chance to represent their county, but the winner of the UK finals gets to represent their country in the international finals in Egypt. Mrs Keen was notified that she was Miss Mermaid Worcestershire in July and is looking forward to the final in September. She is hoping to raise awareness and funds for Marine Conservation which the competition works very closely with. Mrs Keen added: “Mermaids need a nice place to live as well.”