The first ever race saw both teams starting in Dover and reaching France within 2 minutes of each other. According to the rules of the competition, the race was declared a draw. Since then, Oxford and Cambridge have met 8 more times in the Channel. The most recent race in 2014 saw extremely strong swims from both teams, again resulting in a draw.

We wait in suspense to see what will happen this year, at the 10th Varsity Relay Channel Swim, taking place from 2nd-7th July 2016.

If you are interested in being a part of the Cambridge Channel Relay team for 2016, please email Laura Schubert, the Open Water Swimming Captain, at

Alternatively, fill in this form before MONDAY 18th January. Team selection will happen by the end of January 2016.

The Swim

This biannual event is a Relay Race between teams from Cambridge and Oxford University, from Dover to France. The race is swum by a team of six people from each university, consisting of three men and three women. They swim in one hour stints until they have crossed the channel. Due to variation in coastline of France and sea currents, any difference in time under two minutes is counted as a draw.The next race will be in July 2016.

As in all official Channel swims, no wetsuits are allowed, and water temperature is often above 16 degrees C. Each team crosses the channel along the current swimmer in a piloted boat, and after an hour the next swimmer enters the water, with each team member swimming once or more, until the French coast is reached.

Training for this event involves physical training for fitness and cold resistance, and mental training for will-power and team support. It is very exciting and a lot of fun for both the team, and friends and relatives of those swimming, who can follow the boat via a GPS tracker online, and twitter updates.

The 2014 Event

The Channel Swim team consisting of Erik Sullivan, Katie Davidson, Graeham Douglas, Emma Tarrant, Dan Brackenbury, and Jacqui Gilbert completed the crossing in 9 hours, ahead of the Oxford team (9hr 2min). Unfortunately the time gap was not enough to declare a win for Cambridge, resulting in a draw; however, after the team had to pull out in 2012, this is a fantastic feat for Cambridge open-water swimming.

Cambridge Channel Team 2014


The Cross Channel Relay Competition was founded in 1998 by Nick Thomas and Martin Davies and has been running biannually ever since. The inaugural Varsity Channel Relay Race between Oxford and Cambridge Universities in 1998 was a tremendous success. This event, the only university swimming race across the Channel, generated publicity worldwide as well as within both universities. Amongst others, the race was featured twice in The Times, in The Daily Telegraph, on numerous local Television stations and internationally on Australian National Radio. Over 100,000 alumni were informed through both Universities’ alumni publications. In addition, extensive features ran in both Universities’ student media and in the Swimming Times, a national swimming publication.

Cambridge and Oxford Teams 2014


Cambridge 3
Oxford 4
Draw 2

Year Winner Cambridge Time Oxford Time
1998 Draw 9:24 9:25
2000 Oxford 8:25 8:18
2002 Oxford 9:19 9:06
2004 Cambridge 8:49 9:19
2006 Cambridge 10:22 10:48
2008 Oxford 10:20 10:00
2010 Cambridge 8:51 9:02
2012 Oxford - 8:45
2014 Draw 9:00 9:02