Harpenden mermaid set to make splash at national contest
PUBLISHED: 11:38 03 September 2019 | UPDATED: 10:44 11 September 2019
A professional merperson from Harpenden is set to make a splash at the Miss Mermaid UK competition.
Former Sir John Lawes School pupil, Hana Chelache, is set to compete in a beauty-pagent style event to win the national title this October at the Royal Berkshire Conference Centre in Reading.
Under the pseudonym Mermaid Isla, Hana says being a mermaid is physically demanding and requires athletes to swim underwater with a specially built mermaid tail.
There are various rounds in the Miss Mermaid UK competition - she will be asked to perform a talent, tackle an underwater distance swim and submerged modelling shoot, and display an eco-friendly costume.
Hana said: "I've always loved mermaids and ocean life, so when I found the mermaid world online, I was so excited and knew it was something I had to try.
"I started out mermaiding as a way to express myself creatively, and learn more about freediving, but it's become a far bigger part of my life than I ever expected."
Before she discovered mermaiding, Hana was involved in freediving and can swim 16 metres deep without an oxygen tank with her AIDA Level Two certification.
Since spring 2018, she has turned mermaiding into a career and performs at children's pool parties and dry land events.
She added: "My favourite part of mermaiding is how happy it makes children when they see me.
"It's usually an unforgettable experience for them. I think modern life can be very stressful and children are under so much pressure to grow up too quickly, so it's very important to include a little bit of magic now and then.
"At school I was dismissed as being a daydreamer or away with the fairies, but now I've built a career out of living my fantasies."
She advised anyone who wanted to get involved with mermaiding to start freediving with an accredited instructor.
Competitors in Miss Mermaid UK are raising money for Sea Shepard UK, which is an international non-profit marine wildlife conservation organization.
The winner will compete at the international contest in Egypt in 2020.