MERMAIDS and mermen took over Ashburton Swimming Pool this week in preparation for a wild river swim this weekend.

Creative volunteers and swimmers have been busy making ‘mermaid scarecrows’ to use as waymarkers at the Dart 10k swim, between Totnes and Dittisham.

Ten of the mermaids will be attached to the bank at one-kilometre intervals to show swimmers how far they’ve gone.

Queenie Martin, organiser of the Devon-wide ‘mermaid-make’ and volunteer at Ashburton pool, said: ‘Ten kilometres is a long way to swim, and people like to know how far they’ve done.

‘I did a 100k bike ride in Essex recently, and they used scarecrow markers at 10k intervals and I thought what a fantastic idea, let’s do it.

‘Just when you get to the point when your heart’s sinking and legs are feeling heavy seeing these fun waymarkers really lifts your spirits.’

She said: ‘We thought mermaid scarecrows would be good – as a mix of mermaids for the water and scarecrows for the countryside, although mine could be mistaken for a “scaremaid”.

‘The 10k swim takes a couple of hours, and you don’t have much chance to look around, so the mermaid markers will be really helpful to keep track of where we are.

‘Instead of luring sailors onto the rocks, these ones will spur the swimmers on.’

The Dart 10k is organised by The Outdoor Swimming Society. More than 800 swimmers will be taking part each day this weekend.