As we approached the start line for the annual Open Water Varsity, we knew that history was not on our side. Each year four men and four women race 2.1 km upstream over the famous Henley rowing course, with the top three of each gender scoring for their team. Cambridge’s men and women have suffered across the board defeats every year since the competition’s inception in 2014. However, as we stood shivering on the bank, we felt determined to turn the tables and score the first varsity victories for the light blues.
Despite our apprehensions from the shore, the water turned out to be pleasantly warm. I won’t go as far as bathlike, but it was definitely a step up from the frigid waters of previous years. The men’s and women’s teams were set off two minutes apart and (despite some of the team taking more artful lines to the finish) all the swimmers put in impressive performances. Particularly notable results come from the first man and woman (Erik Sullivan and Katrin Heider respectively), both of whom came in at just over half an hour – more than two minutes ahead of their nearest competitors. The strong team performances resulted in well deserved and long awaited victories for both the men and women, finally usurping the O*ford dominance of open water. We were then able to tuck into a well earned breakfast as the results were announced and, despite the unfortunate losses for the alumni teams, a large Cambridge victory in the mob match resulted in 3/5 sweep for Cambridge. This dominant performance will hopefully be repeated in years to come.