Category Archives: Swimming

Seconds Swimming Varsity 2023

25th February 2023, Parkside Pools Cambridge
Cambridge: 95 Oxford: 85
Mens: Cambridge 49, Oxford 41
Womens: Cambridge 46, Oxford 44

2svars1 The winning team!

After two terms of hard training and pizza eating, the energised and committed Seconds team was ready to come back with a bang at the first home Varsity in four years following last year’s fairly significant defeat. The Seconds Varsity kicked off the day of Swimming Varsities and, after sizing up the competition in the parade, supported by a strong home crowd, racing began.

Starting off proceedings was the 100m IM, in which women’s captain Yvonne Winterborn led in the Cambridge contingent with a personal best time, followed by strong performances from Kat Williams and Eva Barry, though they couldn’t prevent the dominant O*ford 1st/2nd. The gents followed and got off to a solid start, bagging 1st and 2nd, with Alfie Collins claiming the victory, and men’s captain Ed Roberts just tenths of a second behind him. Jake Scott secured himself not only a PB but also a county time, an impressive feat for the recent recruit.

Next came some seriously fast swimming in the 50m backstroke. Rosa Pollard Smith put in an electric performance to get a Cambridge Seconds Varsity record time of 32.70, only just out touched to come in 2nd. Grace Riley was just behind her in 3rd place, both securing county times, with shouts of “yeah Pem!” resonating from the stands. Recent dev squad graduate Vivian Jiang also gave a stellar performance. For the men, somewhat like Moses, Cameron Manley parted the Parkside water to put in a blistering time of 27.88, securing 3 points for the team and a new Cambridge Seconds Varsity record! Not far behind was Samrahn Sandhu to grab us third place in an event he doesn’t usually swim, and Alex Heatley, who put in a great swim having only joined the squad a few months ago.

Next up was the hotly anticipated 100m freestyle. Vet med veteran Evie took nearly 1s off her PB from varsity last year to come in 2nd – all her distance training for her upcoming Channel swim has clearly only made her faster! Speedy fresher Izzy was close behind in 3rd securing more precious points at her varsity debut, and everyone’s Faye-vourite Faye Zhao touched in 5th. With the crowd roaring for the men’s event, the Cambridge lions, Issei Kuzuki, James Jennings and Dafydd Ravenscroft, all got off to a great start. Surfacing from the final turn Issei found himself neck and neck with Oxford’s lane 5. Despite being pipped at the finish, Issei smashed home a new Cambridge varsity record. Dafydd and James both put in equally impressive swims to bag some extra points for the team. James achieved a new personal best, just shy of a sub minute time!


The roaring home crowd

Next was 50m butterfly where Ella Veakins, armed with her light blue eyeliner, stormed into 2nd place with a Cambridge Seconds Varsity record. Kat, whose fly is just getting faster and faster, came closely behind in 3rdwith a PB and county time, followed by Abbie Lewis, who gave her all despite believing swimming should be followed by cycling and running. The men’s promised to be a loud one and it did not disappoint. After his second training session of the year, otherwise known as the warmup, Harry Weston donned his racing suit and was ready to channel his inner Michael Phelps. The half man half torpedo pulled off a colossal victory to bring home the full 4 points for the team. Nathan Williams and Pratyush Mishra both had a great start and surfaced level with each other. Nathan eventually pulled away and bagged an extra point for the mighty light blues along with a new personal best! Pratyush came in 1.4 seconds quicker than the time he achieved at BUCS earlier in the year, a testament to his commitment in training.

Just 2 points behind at the break, victory was within reach and the Seconds dug deep for an excellent second half of the individual events. The longest and most painful individual event, the 200m freestyle, started off the second half with Evie putting in a strong performance to gain 2nd, and Ellie Mason close behind in 3rd, a warmup for her spicy commentating at the Blues varsity later in the evening. Captain Yvonne took one for the team to fill the spaces, and touched in 4th, bagging herself a 5s PB. After only just getting his breath back from the 100m free, Issei was up again for the 200m. He mounted a momentous sprint on the last few lengths, pushing Oxford’s lane 3 to give it his all but just missed out in the end. Another length and he would’ve left Oxford in the dust. Oliver Bramley, another great swimmer who joined us at the start of term, had an amazing swim to finish in 3rd. Not far behind was Ed Cator from the triathlon team to bring home a nice Cambridge 2nd, 3rd, 4th. A great race all round!

Cambridge’s momentum continued to build in the 50m breaststroke. Exchange student Mishael Hyat Ayub put in a blazing performance to earn herself a Seconds Varsity Record and finally get the Cambridge women’s first podium top spot of the evening. Ella narrowly missed out on 2nd place, and recent addition from dev squad Charlotte Macey bagged herself a county time. The men’s 50m breaststroke was a successful one for the light blues with the team securing 1st, 3rd and 5th. Samrahn had victory in his sight from the start, finishing in a blistering time of 31.15, with captain Ed and Renat Samur both close behind. All three Cambridge men left the water with regional times to their name and lots of points in the bag.

The crowd went wild as the Cambridge women dominated in the final individual event, the 50m freestyle. There must be something in the eye makeup, as Izzy in her brilliant blue eyeshadow stormed to victory having led from the off. She was closely followed in 2nd place by Anna Stevenson, whose performance was excellent despite being pretty much anywhere other than Cambridge most of the year on placement, and Grace who was back in the pool the other way around after her strong backstroke swim earlier. For the men we had the trio Ben Carter, Alfie Collins and Hanyang Li. Ben and Alfie left Oxford for dust in their long bubble trail to claim 1st and 2nd! Hanyang had an equally impressive swim, finishing in a close 5th place. A solid last event for the gentlemen.

Some mental maths from Coach Chris told us we were 10 points ahead, meaning that we just had to win one of the four relay races and a Cambridge victory would be secured! A special shoutout to those who had waited through all the individual events for their time to shine: Ro Michaelis, Anya Penderis, Talia Rubin, Aidan Jones and Tom Plant, all making their Varsity debuts. Despite the strong Team A of Kat, Rosa, Ella and Ro getting a Cambridge Seconds Varsity record, they finished behind O*ford, meaning it was all to play for in the men’s medley relay. The pool was alive with energy as the four teams took to the blocks. Cameron Manley once again sliced through the water to put Team A ahead of their Oxford counterparts after the first leg. The roar of the crowd increased with the lead throughout the breaststroke and fly legs. Anchor Issei had the job of securing the victory on the final leg, an easy task for the part fish man from Clare. Parkside erupted with noise as he smashed home a new Cambridge Seconds Varsity record for Team A and, more importantly, formalised the light blues first varsity victory in many many years! There were also great performances all round from Team B, with Aidan putting in an impressive backstroke leg.


The winning moment as Cambridge won the men’s medley relay!

Though victory was already ours, that didn’t stop the women’s freestyle relay A team of Evie, Grace, Anna and Izzy from giving their all, the latter three having swum the 50m free minutes before. They stormed to victory, coming in well under the 2-minute mark to secure the victory for Cambridge, with the B team putting in a good fight too. Finally, all eyes were on the glistening Parkside water for the men’s free relay. The race was a tense one with Oxford and Cambridge leapfrogging each other several times throughout the race. Eventually Cambridge secured 2nd and 3rd, with rumours the powerful kick of the swimmers could be heard as far away as Girton. Team A were only half a second behind their Oxford rivals while Team B smashed Oxford Team B by a humongous 3 seconds. All in all, another good showing from Cambridge.

Waiting for the finalisation of the results felt longer than the commute to the Uni Sports Centre, but sure enough, the Cambridge victory was confirmed, and the team leaped into the pool in celebration, accompanied by jubilant roars from the home crowd.


The jubilant team celebrating their victory!

None of this would have been possible without the tireless work of President Ellie O’Keeffe in organising this Varsity, and the invaluable coaching from Chris and Harriet at CoCSC. A big thanks also to commentators Clemmie and Megan, and of course to the O*ford captains and team for making the journey over to us and being fierce competition. And lastly to our team, whose dedication and hard graft this year truly paid off – hopefully this year is the start of Cambridge dominance in Seconds Swimming Varsity!

Ed Roberts and Yvonne Winterborn

Seconds Swimming Captains

Blues Swimming Varsity 2023

BSV23 Picture 1

The mandatory team picture!

 After 4 years of absence, the much anticipated Swimming Varsity Match came back to Cambridge! The Blues were the last swims of the day. The night session started off with a wave of cheers from our home crowd during the team’s parade.

BSV23 Picture 2

Captains Giorgos Papageorgiou and Sophie O’Keeffe leading the way of the parade!

 Cambridge hit Oxford first on the 200m IM, with a crushing 1st/2nd from fresher Rebecca Keetley and CUSWPC veteran and President Ellie O’Keeffe. Pumped by this win, Leo annihilated the field on the fly leg of the medley. Despite this flying start, O*ford were able to come back for a 1st/2nd, despite PBs from both the Captain Giorgos “Papa” Papageorgiou and Leo, who got his first Blues time.

The scene was set for the 100m backstroke. Captain Sophie O’Keeffe killed the race early and came back to touch just tenths away from her own Cambridge record to keep her Varsity title. Victoria Caroll secured a 3rd place to steal vital points from Oxford again. The men’s 100m back was one of the most indecisive races on the programme, with all 4 swimmers less than a second between their PBs. Just like last year, Oxford won the race but only three tenths behind Yann Divet and fresher Ieuan Blackwell, who secured his full Blue with a new PB.

For their first Varsity, Orla Keaveny and Olivia Du both stepped up and hit PBs in the 200m freestyle. Which was also the case for Jacques Bonsell, only he had a few Varsities behind him. Winning in a mind-blowing 1:49.7, Jacques dropped under 1:50 for the first time ever, dropping his personal record and CUSWPC record by 2 whole seconds, grabbing himself the Varsity record along the way! The crowd went wild, with fresher TJ Guy Semple just missing out the mighty 2 minute barrier, dropping 4 whole seconds from his PB just a month before.

President Ellie O’Keeffe came back from 3rd on the first 50 to grab the win on the 100 fly, with fresher Menna Walmsley going a lifetime best to finish just off the podium. The men’s race was as exciting, with Thomas Coste out touching Oxford by 3 hundredths of a second to finish second on his first Varsity. Leo managed a superb race considering he had swam the 200 IM a mere 10 mins before the race, which led us to a well deserved break.

BSV23 Picture 3

Jacques in disbelief after his record-breaking 200m free swim

The competition kicked back with the longest individual event on the programme: the mighty 400 free. Orla swam like an orca on an eye-popping last 50 to snatch second from Oxford in a new personal best, with Jasmine Eden-Gray coming shortly behind 8 seconds under her previous lifetime best. A special shout-out to Orla, who started from seconds at the beginning of the year to a Blues time less than 6 months later, eventually throwing up at the end of her race!

The men’s event provided one of the most mouth-watering races of the night, with Social Secretary Flynn Ryan and Cameron Lackey both going new PBs, with Cameron dropping 35 seconds from his previous best !!

No drama on the women’s 100 breaststroke, with 200m breaststroke record holder Rebecca Keetley killing the race to secure her second top spot of the night, with Sara Mahmmud swimming to share points with the Other Place. The lads Captain Giorgos and Maxim de Wildt both broke 1:07 to get astounding new PBs in new Blues times for the event, yet their “Max” wasn’t enough to stop O*ford’s 1st/2nd.

The Varsity can’t be complete without the much anticipated 100m free. Captain Sophie O’Keeffe dived back after her 100m back to swim a lifetime best in order to win the women’s 100m free. Fresher Rebecca Thornton finished on the podium in a Blues time and season best under the mighty minute barrier. Jacques Bonsell kept his momentum from his ground-breaking 200m free to break a new lifetime best to come even closer to the sub-50 barrier. Treasurer Tom Woolley was in the money with a bronze-medal finish, also getting a new PB.

With the individual events over, all eyes were on the relays. The women’s 4x100m medley relay was just a race against time for backstroker Sophie O’Keeffe, breastroker Rebecca Keetley, flyer Ellie O’Keeffe and freestyler Rebecca Thornton. Finishing 18 seconds in front of the Other Place, they had enough time to celebrate lowering the new CUSWPC record by 3 seconds, with both Sophie and Rebecca Keetley finishing unbeaten for all 3 of their swims. For the men’s relay, Ieuan Blackwell lowered his personal best from an hour ago to lead off the relay. Both on their first Varsity, Sihan Yu and Thomas Coste unofficially broke their PB on their breaststroke and butterfly split respectively, with Jonnie James anchoring the relay. Despite those valiant efforts, the Other Place touched first.

I never saw a closer race than that freestyle relay. And I’ve seen many races, trust me. The team of Secretary Megan Kemp, Vice-President & Vice-Captain Clemmie Butler-Brown, Sponsorship Officer Justine Rannou and Jas swam neck to neck with O*ford, before getting out-touched at the end of the race. The men’s team of Yann Divet, Guy Semple and anchored by Thomas Woolley weren’t able to hold on to star man Jacques Bonsell’s lead, despite the valiant fight.

BSV23 Picture 4

My favourite picture: @twoollz devastated after the freestyle relay defeat, with O*ford celebrating in the background. You know he won’t let that happen next year

This thrilling 128th Swimming Varsity match concludes a ground-breaking season for CUSWPC, which will certainly be remember as the first women’s victory over the last decade. As mentioned during Varsity Dinner, 12 swimmers achieved Blues times (7 men, 5 women), which is a significant increase from 9 swimmers last year. The team’s strength doesn’t only reside in standout swimmers such as Varsity MVP Sophie O’Keeffe, our one-to-watch fresher Rebecca Keetley or veteran Jacques Bonsell, but also the cohesion between each and every CUSWPC swimmer. All these accomplishments are even more impressive when we take into account the limited swimming time this year of 5 hours a week.

These performances wouldn’t have been possible without the consistent help of tireless President Ellie O’Keeffe, who organised this Home Varsity, and both swimming Captains Sophie O’Keeffe and Giorgos Papageorgiou for their leadership. No superlatives can describe how amazing Chris Greenhalgh’s training has prepared us for our highlight of the year. The match couldn’t have been as exciting without Samrahn Sandhu and Ellie Mason’s commentaries, as well as the roaring support of friends and family at our special home of Parkside Pool.

BSV23 Picture 5
The whole team cheering on the relays!

GDBO, we’ll get them next year!

Yann Divet

Swimming Publicity Officer

2022 Alumni Recap

Henry Choong:

Having graduated in 2019, fellow CUSWPC alumni Henry Choong is now focused on his career as a modern pentathlete. 2022 marked the first year of competing on the senior international stage for Henry. He most notably finished 23rd at the European Championships this September, as well as participating at the World Championships and reaching the semi-finals at his first world cup.


David Skidmore:

Despite the freezing temperatures and snowy conditions, CUSWPC David Skidmore has been swimming outside this winter!


We were also honoured to have him coach a few sessions of our annual swimming camp early January this year, along with freshly-graduated Charlotte Rowlands.


Yann Divet
(if you’re a CUSWPC alumnus and would like us to publish an update from you, get in touch!)

Swimming Training Camp 2022


On the 3rd of January, 18 of CUSWPC’s finest swimmers embarked on the Lanzarote Training Camp 2022 for a 7 day and 13 session week of pure grind and torture. Unfortunately, due to COVID reasons, female captain Ellie O’Keeffe, Social Secretary Sophie O’Keeffe, and resident OAP Alex Goodacre had to miss out on the camp.


Upon arriving at the Airport, we found out the week had already started to test us with a flight delay. But with our Vice-Captain, Maxim De Wildt’s incredible bartering skills, and the fact it was Jet2’s company policy, we were compensated with a £10 duty-free voucher and a free drink on the plane. From here on in though, it was plain sailing. We arrived at the hotel, checked in and got to the pool in plenty of time for our TJ’s (Team Juniors), Megan Kemp and Yann Divet, to find out that they would be leading the land warmups for the week, much to their excitement. This is also when the team found out that the male captain, Alfie Collins, would be their coach for the week due to injury, again much to their excitement.


Over the week the team completed 55km of swimming and smashed 3 massive gym sessions. This year, we had a double focus. Not only were we aiming to substantially improve fitness approaching Varsity, we had the additional aim of maintaining technique through the hardest parts of the sets. This tested the mental and physical strength of the whole team, with every single one of the proving why they are part of the top university squad. The gym sessions proved to be a big hit as well, with freshers and veterans alike improving a vast amount over the week. Seeing the older, more experienced swimmers help and teach the less gym savvy swimmers was fantastic to witness and really developed the team bond. Charlotte Rowlands showed the girls how gym isn’t just for getting mega massive but is such an important aspect of the sport for everyone.


Alongside the tough training schedule, we enjoyed many games night, a great day out at the beach and multiple team challenges with O*ford, who happened to be there at the same time as us.


Finally, on the last day of camp, we held a little camp awards night to celebrate the achievements over the week. Big congratulations to Yann Divet for receiving Male Swimmer of the camp, to Megan Kemp for receiving Female Swimmer of the camp, and to Leo Karski for receiving Swimmer’s Swimmer.

Both captains are incredibly proud of all the athletes on the camp, in their training, the way they conducted themselves over the week and in the amazing team spirit that was shown, be that at 6:30 in the morning before 30*100s best average or when helping each other improve technique.


We would like to thank Chris and City of Cambridge Swim Club for providing us with the sessions and thank Sports Abroad for the amazing support they gave us in organising a camp with all the difficulties there are currently.

Onto Varsity! #GDBO

Swimming Varsity 2021

Swimming Varsity Pic

Virtual varsity

Cambridge: 26th June 2021 at Parkside Pool, Cambridge.

Oxford 24th June 2021 at Rosenblatt Pool, Oxford.

Cambridge 106 Oxford 74

Mens Cambridge 48 Mens Oxford 42

Womens Cambridge 58 Womens Oxford 32

This year, due to the restrictions of COVID, Varsity was held in a rather uncharacteristic way. The competition therefore took place with both teams swimming in their respective pools at a time booked by them. The results of each competition were withheld until after both had been completed and then revealed on the 27th of June. Unfortunately, Oxford’s session clashed with the open water varsity and so they lost some swimmers to that event. Both teams also had members isolating from contact tracing. However, both teams had an amazing turnout and lots of swimmers stepping up at short notice. The Cambridge team still swam amazingly, showing times that were much faster than expected with the significantly reduced amount of training available this year. An amazing 16 blues times were achieved in 13 out of 14 of the individual events by an incredible number of athletes, 10 in total. In addition to the blues times, 2 new university records were broken. These included Hugo Bellamy of Pembroke college breaking the men’s 100 fly record from 2012 in a superb time of 55.85 seconds, and the woman’s 4*100 medley relay team, including Ellie O’Keeffe on the butterfly, Sophie O’Keeffe on the backstroke, Alix Knagg on the breastroke and Juliet Merelie on the freestyle. They managed an amazing time of 4.27.84 which had been standing since 2001!

Lots of love,

Ellie and Alfie xx

Blues Swim Captains

BUCS Swimming 2021

Swimming Current Picture

On the weekend of the 19th November, the Blues swim team and a few seconds made the road trip of a lifetime up to Sheffield to compete in the annual BUCS Speedo Championships, the biggest competition of the British university calendar. For this early in the season, we weren’t expecting any huge times or swims, but how wrong we were. We took 7 cars to get the whole team up to Sheffield over the course of Friday, making sure those swimming that evening were up in plenty of time to prep. The trip was off to a strong start when the people’s publicity officer, Raphael McMahon, made one post and then forgot what his role was and ended up belting out J Biebs for the whole journey. While this delightful choral effort was occurring, our very own open water captain, Yoshi Eschen, proceeded to smash out a 1500m in a Blues record time and a new PB. Over the course of the weekend a total of 36 personal bests, 18 blues times and 4 university records were achieved. Theo Cannon came second in the B Final of the 50 Fly in a time of 24.56 and our Captain oh Captain, Ellie O’Keeffe smashed out a 1.02.74 in the 100 Fly, both qualifying for Nationals! Alongside this Hugo Bellamy also qualified for Nationals on the 100 Fly and Thomas Woolley qualified on the 100 Free! Overall a massive success for the team and we are so proud of all of them. Also big thank you to Chris for coming along to coach us at BUCS for the first time in CUSWPC history, it was great having him around and had a big impact.

Lots of Love,

Ellie and Alfie xx

Blues Swim Captains

Tight Varsity Finish for the Marlins’ Match

The Marlins have continued to grow and improve throughout the 2019/2020 season. Under the able captaincy of Nat Amos and Iris Hall, the Marlins have increased their training – both in and out of the pool – and continued to have more socials over the course of the year. This marks a continuation of the long-term plan to increase the competitiveness of the Marlins while not compromising on the fun! Despite a strong performance at Varsity, with improvements in speed in almost every event, the Marlins were narrowly pipped to the finish by a very strong Oxford team who are much larger in number due to their enviable training facilities. Special mentions must go to Nick Maini who smashed the 50 Fly and the members of the women’s team that stepped up to fill the gaps caused by a very last-minute absence! Despite this difficult loss, the Marlins went on to compete hard on the dancefloor in the night out following. The team continues to improve year on year, bring on Varsity 2021!

Iris Hall & Nat Amos
With continuing competitiveness of the Marlins, the team went from strength to strength throughout the year. Although this did not end in success in the pool the team continues to grow, even with the limited pooltime available to the team.

Tight Varsity Finish for the Marlins' Match

Racing, Rallying and Records: Another thrilling Varsity Match for the Blues Swimmers

Blues Swimming Varsity 2020 was a closely fought contest, with Oxford winning by 97-83. The men’s teams tied 45-45, despite last minute injury to the Cambridge captain and breaststroke star, Lewis Waters. The men showed excellent team spirit in stepping up to race in last minute changes, with particular credit to Alfie Collins for rising to the challenge and achieving an excellent PB in the 100m breaststroke. There were outstanding swims by both the men’s and women’s Cambridge teams throughout the match, with our strength in depth highlighted by the fact that the swimmers achieved blues times for 22/28 individual swims. Club records were broken by Anna Kirk, Claire Collins, Alex Lezard, Theo Cannon, the women’s 4x50m medley relay team and the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay team. Carmen Lim raced in the Match’s first ever multi-classification events, winning both by a clear margin and breaking her own South East Asian records. Theo Cannon was the very deserving winner of ‘Swimmer of the Match’ for his record breaking 100m free, 200m IM and anchor leg of the 4x100m freestyle relay.

Lewis Waters & Juliet Merelie
In a closely fought Blues Swimming Varsity O*ford prevailed with a narrow win. Although Cambridge suffered late injuries, many club records were broken with several stand out performances. This included the Match’s first ever multi-classification events.



Open Water Varsity 2019 Roundup

With no Biannual Channel Swim in 2019, the Cambridge open water season was geared towards our annual varsity race at Henley.

The swim was 2.1km upstream along the Henley regatta rowing course with the race start at 5:40am. This year the varsity swimmers were combined into the “performance wave” of the Henley Classic Swim to add to the competitive feel. All the Cambridge team put in strong swims to be proud of, especially considering how new to open water swimming some of them were. Special mentions go to Naoki Toyomura and Evie Anema as the fastest Cambridge man and woman respectively.

Sadly, our efforts were in vain and Oxford won both Men’s and Women’s Varsity. However, the Women’s Varsity was closely contested with Oxford only narrowly coming out on top. There were no alumni races this year, but Cambridge did win the mob match for the 5th consecutive year. The Cambridge team reflected the strong diversity in open water swimming with pentathletes, triathletes, swimmers and water polo players all involved.

Cambridge results: Naoki Toyomura (32:15), Matthew Chadwick (35:27), Evie Anema (35:30), Eve Hull (35:42), Meghan Mulhern (35:43), Kit Gallagher (36:22) and Abbie Currington (45:24)



CUSWPC Varsities

WATER POLO VARSITY – 16 February 2019, Parkside Pools:

13:15 – 14:15 Alumni Match
14:15 – 15:30 Women’s Seconds Match
15:30 – 16:45 Men’s Seconds Match
16:45 – 18:00 Women’s Firsts Match
18:00 – 19:15 Men’s Firsts Match


SWIMMING VARSITY – 3 March 2019, Parkside Pools:

12:00 – 13:45 Seconds Swimming Varsity
14:00 – 14:15 Alumni Warm Up
14:15 – 14:45 Alumni Swimming Relays
14:45 – 15:05 Blues Swimming Warm Up
15:15 – 15:40 Blues Swimming Parade
15:40 – 18:00 Blues Swimming Varsity