The mermaid and the soprano

Laura St Ives Mermaid

A modern love story for Valentine’s Day.

Did you ever hear the tale of the mermaid and the soprano? No? They met on the Cornish coast and when they plunged into the sea together dolphins appeared, and they knew in the core of themselves they were the ones for each other.

Sounds like a fairy tale, but this is very much a modern love story. St Ives mermaid Laura Evans and Vienna-based soprano Nicola Montfort first encountered each other on Instagram with a shared love of the sea. Nicola was visiting Cornwall and posted an image of Godrevy Lighthouse at the same time Laura was looking under the hashtag #StIves to see what people were posting about her town. “Laura was the first to comment and like the post and started to follow me,” says Nicola. “I looked at her profile and saw she was posting beautiful sea images. I live away from the sea most of the year and the sea is one of the places I feel most at home. I started to follow her because it gave me such wonderful vibes of sea swimming.”

After their brief connection, the two kept loose contact online. “It was when Laura started to post about her mental health and how she was quitting her job with the NHS, that I got in touch,” says Nicola. “I could relate to her so much. I wrote her a long message that night and she responded with something so funny like, ‘from the tips of the toes of my heart, thank you so much’ and said she would be in touch the next day. Except she never was.” Laura came off social media to deal with her personal life. It was only later that summer when Nicola was in Cornwall, and posted a photo, that Laura suggested they meet in person.

St Ives Mermaid In Cornwall

Laura is passionate about the stretch of coast where she lives in Cornwall

“I had no idea if Nicola liked swimming or not,” says Laura. “I suggested we go for a cup of tea and she suggested we go for a swim.” Laura loves to leap off the end of the pier in St Ives harbour, so the two met and did just that.

“That first day just happened and when we came out the sea and saw dolphins we just jumped in again to swim out to them,” says Nicola.

Laura recalls the moment like an epic first date but without realising it. “I didn’t know Nicola was gay, that first time we had together was a friendship. But the moment I saw those dolphins, I didn’t think and just leapt. While I was underwater, I heard Nicola hit the water and, in that moment, there was something in my body, my soul that just felt that this was the girl for me. I remember it so vividly. I didn’t know at the time, but this deeper feeling was mutual. It was only later I found out that Nicola was gay and my heart went ca-boom.”

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Nicola the soprano (LEFT) and Laura the mermaid (RIGHT)

So, what keeps the magic going when Nicola is working in Vienna? “Total transparency and trust,” says Laura. “We didn’t have much choice, we wanted to be together and therefore the distance, although we knew it would be difficult, wasn’t an issue.”

Nicola had always prepared for a relationship like this. “I knew what my career would look like as a professional musician and that it would be hard to have a relationship,” says Nicola. “But when we met that first day, life shifted. Trust between us was there from the first second we met, which I think is unique.”

When Laura and Nicola have time together, it can be anything from five days to five weeks. “We definitely pressure ourselves to be happy and not allow any room for negativity when we are together,” says Laura. “However, it is actually our opportunity to have real life as a couple.” I asked what their favourite mundane things about each other were. “I love watching Nicola shower her nose,” says Laura. “It is what singers have to do and the first time I ever saw her do it, I was obsessed.” For Nicola, the loveliest thing is waking up next to each other.

Their shared loved of the sea has brought them together creatively. This August they are performing together at Penlee Park Theatre in Penzance. Nicola is producing an evening of classical music interwoven with Cornish folklore narrated by Laura. The event promises magic and, with this mermaid and soprano, I would expect nothing else.

Photos by Nicola Montfort



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Cover March2020

Issue 36 March 2020

  • Breaking Boundaries - stories from the global outdoor swimming community
  • Alice Dearing - Team GB's only black swimmer
  • Towards North – wild swimming in Finland
  • Better Breaststroke - tune up your stroke
  • Swimrunner - new magazine section!

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