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New Westminster mermaid tale featured on ABC's Good Morning America

Lori Pappajohn’s fin-tastic tale has made a splash in the U.S.

The New Westminster resident and avid swimmer was featured, along with a Surrey mom and her two daughters, on ABC’s Good Morning America last week about their hand-made mermaid tails and mermaid adventures.

Pappajohn, a professional harpist and freelance journalist, has been “mermaiding” for a year, but it first started when she saw two swimmers using monofins three years ago.

“I just started monofinning,” she said. “I would monofin every day for a couple of years and then one evening I came home from the pool and I don’t know why but I Googled ‘mermaid.’ I was just amazed at what came up.”

Pappajohn spent two months working with her friend and fellow avid mermaid, Annette Johnston, to create the perfect fin and tails.

She heard about Monika Naumann, who created custom mermaid tails for her daughters, and wrote an article in July that went viral online. It was eventually picked up by GMA.

GMA’s senior national correspondent Claire Shipman interviewed Pappajohn and the Naumanns earlier this month and shot the segment at the outdoor pool at Robert Burnaby Park.

“When she got the assignment, she kinda rolled her eyes and said like ‘Come on, mermaids?’ Pappajohn said. “But at the end of the interview when she put the tail on, she got it. She just said, ‘This is amazing.’”

“Once you get your feet into that monofin, you change into another way of thinking,” she added.

One time, Pappajohn swam past divers and “scared them to death.”

“They were so freaked out they actually came up to the surface and they looked at me and said ‘You’re a mermaid,’” she said, adding kids love to watch her in the water.

This made her start up a “mermaid school.”

“I go to pools or beaches and I take all my kids mermaid gear and kids come and have fun,” she said. “They see me and the kids just want to be a mermaid or merman.”

Photo Gallery

  • Submitted/Benja Iglesis photo

    New Westminster resident Lori Pappajohn “mermaids” several miles off the Maui coast.

  • Benja Iglesis photo

    New Westminster resident Lori Pappajohn is a professional harpist and freelance journalist. She says she loves seeing the reactions of kids and adults when they see her swim as a mermaid.

  • Benja Iglesis photo

    Burnaby resident Annette Johnston is also an avid mermaid and has spent hours helping Pappajohn to create the perfect mermaid tail.

  • Benja Iglesis photo

    Lori Pappajohn and fellow avid mermaid Annette Johnston swims several miles off the Maui coast.

  • Benja Iglesis photo

    Lori Pappajohn has set up a “mermaid school” to teach those curious to learn how to be a mermaid. For more information, visit

  • Benja Iglesis photo

    Lori Pappajohn is seen in this file photo. Pappajohn has been monofinning for three years and “mermaiding” for a year.

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