Women’s Water Polo Come 2nd in Premier South League

As the deadline approached, the women’s blues water polo team had one game left to play, their 8th in the league since the start of term. But this was to be no ordinary match: with a 1:15pm start, all the refs had actual jobs to do. Though Irwin now has the most comprehensive list of refs in the East of England, none of them were free and the match was going to be cancelled.

So at 8am we prepared to go to our scheduled lectures. Until Bath, in a stroke of kindness, asked to play regardless, saving us from a forfeit. Thus, with just under an hours notice, we gathered our equipment and rushed to our cars, ready to make the two hour journey to our home match (a constant source of agony). We managed to draft in a last minute ref, who has our eternal gratitude.

We arrived at the pool with ten minutes to spare, and cried out “let’s win this for Ella – so she doesn’t have to arrange another match!” As she set up the clock, we got ready to go, but the first quarter saw not a single successful goal. We cut and defended with a frenzy, but our attacks remained tentative. However, that quarter did give Captain Schubert a chance to warm up.

Irwin hopped in the pool, leaving Robbo to table. And then the goals started coming, from Schubert, and Schubert, and Schubert again. Though at one point we were a terrifying 4-2 down, after words of encouragement the team turned it around, showing strong defence and a more aggressive attack. The whole team got together, making beautiful passes into pit, and we got to half time with a 5-4 lead, all five goals put into place by Captain Schubert.

Despite some clock mix-ups, we got into the third quarter, ready to show bath that they would not be getting any more goals away. And indeed that second quarter had proved to be their only lucky one. Turrell got back on defence, and Robinson had a lovely block, helping Morgan keep the ball out of the goal. And in attack, Schubert added another two to her impressive list of goals.

With a 7-4 lead we went into the fourth quarter, and even had two full subs, as the Birmingham’s men team offered to help table. Quick newbie, Mackett scored two goals off a cheeky pass, even winning a tussle against the goalie. Though the bath team got one goal away, Feng’s whistled a shot in, and Schubert scored another to seal the score at 11-5 in favour of Cambridge at the final whistle.


After all the stress, the team is straight off to semi-finals, having placed second in the premier south league.

Men 2nd vs UEA: A Long Awaited Victory

By Daniel Lafferty

I said I’d write the report when we won a match, so here we go:

Bolstered by the return of our beloved Santi, and restless after the same fixture was cancelled the week before, the Cambridge team travelled the hour long drive to our home pool (no I will not stop complaining about that) anticipating – at long last- a solid win. UEA should be trounced, if we hope to defeat Oxford Brookes and retain dignity in the league.

But, upon arriving in Northampton, no opposition were to be found. Being the dedicated water polo team that we are, we proceeded to use our pool time for a training session until, an hour in, a meek UAE team had the cheek to arrive.

Tired but undeterred, but we agreed to play.

The first quarter showed a staggering difference in class as the Cambridge men outswam their opponents scoring 4 goals in quick succession, Vytautas showed his metal as captain scoring two trademark goals from 5 metres and still managing to take care of the opposition’s pit player when in defence. One of the refs decided he didn’t like the look of Rhys, leading to a couple of early sending outs, but UEA failed to capitalise on their man ups so we retained a clean sheet after the seven minutes were up.

A different team entered the second quarter as fatigue took its toll on the Cambridge side. Man of the match, Chadwick, repeatedly made valiant efforts to find space and produce plays, as the team faltered behind him. A number of careless mistakes soon led to goals for the opposition, who came back to 4-3 by half time.

A change of attitude was needed as the team were becoming visibly frustrated. We were tired, yes, but we had to dig in. We clawed our way back, taking advantage of the opponent’s weak players as their lack of subs tired them out. A clumsy tap in from yours truly with a minute to go left the score back at a respectable 7-4 (whether or not I was within two metres was apparently not an issue for our refs).

The final quarter proved to be seven minutes too much for our keeper James. A last push by the opposition (including a last second goal) pushed us to the limit, but we narrowly retained the lead for a final score of 8-7.

It was not the result we’d hoped for, so it would be easy to walk away disappointed, but consideration has to be given to the circumstances. As we calmed on the drive home, the relief and satisfaction of a match won slowly sunk in.

Final mentions go to Dimitris, showing the occasional use of swimmers by winning the ball at the start of every quarter, and relative newbie Cameron, for lodging a respectable 2 goals on the score sheet.

Women’s Water Polo Put Up a Fight Against a Strong Imperial Team

By Francesca Giordaniello

After ruling in our actually-home match on Friday, we were a bit shocked at the lack of chlorine in Barnet’s pool, so it took us a while to get in the game. The Imperial team took advantage of this odd situation and that’s the only reason why they could score two goals, leading for 2-1 at the end of the first quarter, despite Turrel’s nice shot.

After that quarter though, we started performing quite well – cutting and putting into practice what we learnt in the tactics sessions. We definitely woke up in the second half of the second quarter, when Turrel and Schubert scored one goal each to maintain the 1-goal difference. 4-3 was the score at the half time whistle.

The third quarter was full of action and heart attacks for our girls due to Benezit’s incredible savings. Our efforts in defence and the best dropping of our career worked in our favour  as we managed to steal ball after ball from the other team. Time goes faster when you have fun, so we also used all the 30 seconds available for our actions, though some of them, unfortunately, did not end in a goal. However, the amazing teamwork ensured our ladies concluded the quarter with a 5-5 draw, thanks to our new entry Hulshof and our veteran Feng’s goals.

The emotions kept on in the last quarter, when we tried our best to boost the score despite the cloud of misfortune above our heads. Although the Imperial teams managed to violate our goal twice, we closed the game with Irwin’s memorable action that will be passed down to the next generations for years and years: promptly stealing the ball in defense, she dribbled past all the Imperial players and, finally, slammed the ball into the goal like the good old Maradona, earning her a well deserved player of the match.

The final score was a 7-6 not in our favor, but we definitely played our best against a tough team and we all showed improvements, singularly and as a team.

Women’s Water Polo Win a Truly HOME Game

By Sarah Flaherty

For their rematch against Birmingham in three days, the Women’s Blues found themselves in the unusual position of hosting a match in Cambridge itself. Lacking a suitable pool, the team is used to accommodating hours of driving to reach even nominally ‘home’ matches. It was therefore a welcome change to attend classes and other commitments, have a square meal, and meet early for a thorough tactics session and warmup. Physically and mentally ready to repeat their recent victory against the visitors, the team lined up for the starting whistle happy to be home.

Detracting from this advantage, the team was forced to contend with challenging playing conditions in a narrow, asymmetrical and inadequately-ventilated pool. While the team’s dedicated training had instilled some tolerance of the facility’s choking chloramine mist, both home and visiting players soon succumbed to the infamous ‘Leys’ cough’. We can only hope that Cambridge will one day come to its senses and build its athletes a regulation pool, or else have the medical faculty advise us on poolside treatment strategies for acute inhalation injury.

The Cambridge team had done their utmost to prepare for these difficulties, and played confidently and cohesively from the starting whistle. Overpowering Birmingham on the right wing, Sarah Flaherty and Claudia Feng scored early goals in rapid succession. Cambridge held this lead with an energetic defensive effort by the whole team, leaving Birmingham with few opportunities to shoot.

Captain Schubert commands her team. Photo Credit to Lefteris Paparounas
Captain Schubert commands her team. Photo Credit to Lefteris Paparounas

The team’s coordination was disrupted as they moved to attack the shallow end for the second quarter. The women were outpaced by Birmingham’s quick turnovers and, despite impressive goalkeeping by Blandine Bénézit, conceded two goals early in the quarter. Encouraged by captain Laura Schubert, the team responded with sustained effort and communication, and progressed to the next quarter with the score tied.

The team returned to play with renewed determination, bolstered by an immediate goal by formidable newcomer Lilly-Anne Hulshof. Returning to the stronger team dynamics of the first quarter, Cambridge pulled further ahead with goals from Flaherty and Kate Read. Despite a last-minute goal from Birmingham, the team finished the quarter with a restored 5:3 lead.

Cambridge carried this momentum forward into an intense final quarter. Bold long-distance shots from Birmingham tied the score within the first few minutes, but the team had plenty left in the tank to dominate the remainder of the game, with a goal from Frances Turrell and two more from Hulshof, our overwhelmingly nominated player of the match. With this comfortable lead, the team focused on keeping play controlled, but Ella Irwin saw an opportunity that was too good to pass up, scoring from the two-meter line with fourteen seconds left on the clock, and bringing the final score to a commanding 9:5.

Turell takes a shot. Photo Credit to Lefteris Paparounas
Turell takes a shot. Photo Credit to Lefteris Paparounas

The Blues leave this match with a definitive win and useful lessons to guide them to victory for the remainder of the BUCS season, and in the hotly anticipated Varsity match to be hosted in Cambridge later this month.

Women’s Water Polo Beat Birmingham in Verse and in the Pool

By Laura Schubert

There was once a pool called Walsall
It was large, double deep and had ceilings tall
A two hour travel
But you can’t have all
So the Cambridge ladies responded to Birmingham’s call.

It was a Wednesday like no other
We have a match, but also lectures – oh bother!
A team of nine
Dedicated their time
To play a water polo match – what – another?

This was our 6th match in 2 weeks
With one player of the match, Kate, in goal – oh what great shrieks
Go there, go here
Just show no fear
So many great saves – such saving techniques.

Considering we had players nine
The match sheet shows we did more than fine
With scorers six
We showed sneaky tricks
Especially our new players did brightly shine!

There were two girls called Becky and Chantelle
(Player of the match #2 for her goal, oh so swell)
Who are new and played incredibly well
They each scored a goal
And sometimes the ball stole
And so we were a goal up at the one minute bell.

Always at least one goal ahead
Only one kick-out, but that was no dread
We swam fast
And had a blast
And never did stop the water to tread.

With a 7-6 win we were very happy and glad
The Captain stormed out to avoid parking fines bad
We sped home to lectures
So Claudia could work on conjectures
And what a ball of a time we had!

Women’s Water Polo Return from a Triumphant Weekend

By Becky Mackett

Last weekend our women’s team played their home matches against Cardiff and Imperial. You would think that would mean a nice easy journey to a pool in Cambridge or the surrounding area, but no, off to Birmingham we went. Cars were loaded up at midday and we made the two hour trek to Walsall Gala Baths. Our first match was against Cardiff and we arrived feeling good. We knew that despite the previous Cardiff match not going to plan (it featured a dreadful journey and questionable refereeing) we had the ability to win this time.

We got off to a strong start in the first quarter with a goal from Flaherty. Cardiff weren’t having this though, and upped their defence, resulting in an exclusion for one of their team and a penalty given to us. Our captain, Laura Schubert, took the shot, slamming in another goal for the Cambridge team. Two goals up and we were feeling pretty good; however, the end of the quarter saw a goal from Cardiff, showing us they weren’t going down without a fight.

The second quarter saw some excellent attacks from the Cambridge girls leading to another goal from Schubert. We were starting to feel more comfortable and could see that all our training was paying off. The very end of the quarter saw a beautiful goal from ex-captain Frances Turrell with the clock on 00:01. The Cardiff coach, taking out his unhappiness with the ref, was sent off with a red card.

We kept up our strength in the third quarter, starting with a goal from Ella Irwin after a beautiful drive from Lara Tritton, proving that the many hours practising this in on winter training camp in Budapest was worth it. By the end of the quarter Turrell had scored again and Cardiff were still only on one goal. This was due to our great defence, especially by Laura Robinson and Turrell, our players of the match, as well as Kate Read’s excellent goal keeping.

At the start of the final quarter we were in a 6-1 lead but we didn’t let ourselves get complacent, aware that even one quarter can bring a shift in energy. Swapping goalies to ensure everyone got field play, Lucy Morgan stepped in and Read emerged, pretty soon thereafter, scoring a goal. After more impressive attacks from the strong Cambridge side, we saw two fantastic goals from Flaherty on the wing (within 30 seconds of each other!)

At the sound of the final buzzer the score was 9-1 to Cambridge.

Celebrating the weekends victories (minus Sarah)

That evening, to avoid the drive back home, we stayed over in Birmingham – mostly. Wonderful thanks go to Kate’s mum for hosting half the team! However, elsewhere things did not go so smoothly: One broken car, one car returned to Cambridge, and several hours on the train, and one night later, Frances returned from Cambridge, swapping Sarah for Claudia, picking up a very dedicated med-soc-ballgoer Chantelle, and our Coach, Ashley. We were ready to face Imperial for the first time this year.

The first quarter started well with two goals from Turrell. However, these were quickly followed by two goals from Imperial who we soon discovered were very happy shooting from way past 5m. We didn’t let this faze us and carried out some great counter-attacks resulting in goals from Morgan and Irwin, both of whom were celebrating their first BUCS goals of the season this weekend.

Imperial scored again though, showing that we couldn’t let our guard down just yet. We did, however, realise that we were certainly the fitter team, and used this to our advantage (4 hours training a day on tour had to come in handy at some point). With six seconds left of the second quarter, and after some great passing from Cambridge, Irwin scored her second goal of the match. The score at half time was 5-3, and we weren’t giving up yet.

Imperial came back strongly after half time and the third quarter saw two goals from former Cambridge player Macarena. Claudia Feng, unwilling to stand for this took a fantastic shot from the wing resulting in another goal for Cambridge. At the close of the third quarter the score was 6-5 to us and so we knew this next quarter was going to be pivotal.

The final quarter of this match was certainly the most nerve-racking experience I’ve had of water polo to date. Although in the lead, we knew Imperial were strong. Tritton wasn’t fazed by any of this though and we saw a beautiful goal from her after an excellent counter-attack from the whole team. We also finally stopped fouling Imperial outside five meters, so they didn’t get a single shot away. When the final buzzer sounded we were overjoyed – we had won 7-5 and the long weekend away had been totally worth it. Schubert had the biggest shock at the score because she had somehow spent the whole match thinking we were losing/drawing and so she was surprised to say the least.

Players of the match went to Irwin and Tritton for their cracking goals and never stop attitude. Also a special mention must go to Morgan and Read for their brilliant goal-keeping, without which the score could have been very different given the strength of some of Imperial’s shooters. Final shout out goes to Ashley our coach for making the trip up to Birmingham and making such a difference to the match (he is also owed a congratulations for it being the first time in three years he wasn’t sent off during a match in Walsall).

So we piled into the cars for the journey back to Cambridge, all exhausted but very happy. Despite the busy weekend we made it to training at 7am Monday. This week sees three more BUCS matches for the women which we’ll be going into looking to repeat the success of this weekend. Let’s go Cambridge.


Training Camp 2016-2017

This year the Cambridge University Blues swim team again embarked on their annual training camp.  The team again visited the Sports Abroad training facility in Oasis Papagayo Resort, Feurtaventura for the third year running.


Over the course of the week, the team consisting of 10 men and 5 women completed 26 hours in the outdoor pool, covering 78km in the water, 6 hours of land training and hiked one volcano.


The purpose of the yearly training camp is to provide the members with one final large aerobic block of work, to allow the team to hone their fitness and provide a running start into the final weeks before their Varsity Match.  It is because of this desire to obtain a good deal of fitness that the team is forced to swim such large distances on camp. This lead to a number of challenge sets being swam throughout the week, in particular a gruelling set of 101 x 100m on the very last day of camp.



Speaking on the progress made over the week, swimming captains Dominic Holloway and Amy Felgate had the following to say. “ The training camp in Fuerteventura was once again a huge success. 15 swimmers headed out to the Canary Islands in the New Year and faced a 35 hour week of training (more if you count climbing the volcano). Despite the relentless pool and land work-outs the team morale was excellent throughout and everyone found the week exceptionally rewarding. Now back in Cambridge the squad has its eyes set firmly on the Varsity Match on February 25th and are training harder than ever with their new found fitness.”


Good luck to the team from everyone at Bluebird and we look forward to hearing their results.  The swimming Varisty Match takes place on Saturday the 25th of February.

Women’s Water Polo: Two matches, Two countries, 24 hours…

by Lara Tritton

Fighting fit, fired up and full of fearsome new tactics from the fiendishly ferocious Hungarians post-tour, the Cambridge Women’s Waterpolo team faced 3 matches in 4 days.

After Wednesday had seen a solid and satisfying trouncing of ‘The Other Place’; the team prepared to do battle against the Welsh dragons in Cardiff on Friday evening followed the next morning by Bristol… back in Cambridge. Well, I say in Cambridge but our ‘home’ pool in Northampton is still a good 1.5 hours’ drive from Cambridge.

We set off for Cardiff at 3pm, leaving 5 and a half hours to get there in order to avoid the slight catastrophe that occurred the last time we attempted England’s traffic on a Friday evening to play Cardiff, whereupon our ETA kept ominously slipping later and later until we had reached Reading and realised that not only would we arrive after their pool closed but one car was an hour behind. If you can’t guess, that match didn’t happen.

Despite this seemingly ample time, someone somewhere had decided to close seemingly every road and junction that we needed, so we arrived, leapt in the pool and rushed through our warm-up before swim-off.

Quarter 1: Our short warm-up left our part-time goalie Lucy Morgan out in the cold, and some successful counters by Cardiff quickly left us 3-0 down. We soon got our act together and made sure we sprinted back to get our defensive arc in gear, with some strong defence put in by Ella Irwin and some excellent saves off one-on-ones by Morgan.

A strong shot by Captain Schubert towards the end of the quarter lifted our flagging spirits, and in the interlude before the next quarter we were reminded to play with ‘High Intesnsity’.

Quarter 2: We were now fully in the swing of things, and our capabilities emerged, with some excellent leftie shots by woman of the match Sarah Flaherty. Despite some distinctly questionable refereeing (we think he was mistakenly caught up in the emerging trend for whistle-blowing), with frequent turnovers, we held our own and caught up slightly.

The third and fourth quarters were hard fought, and despite goals from Frances Turrell, Schubert and Irwin, including a bizarre allowance whereby the Cardiff goalie, poor lass, unfortunately managed to score an own goal when she brought the ball back to throw it her teammate. Chantelle Doran and Laura Robinson made sure the runaway goals of the first quarter were not repeated, keeping Cardiff firmly marked. Meanwhile, Kate kept her cool despite being mauled in an unladylike way to ensure opposition goal scoring was minimised.

Sadly, the match finished with a final strong push from Cardiff to end with an 8-6 loss, but we played well… and then drove back- huge credit to Doran and Turrell in one car and Schubert singlehandedly in the other for the 10 hours driving!

We face Cardiff again in less than a week… spoiler: the scoreline read very differently!

Screen Shot 2017-01-28 at 11.26.49 PM


Just about time for a quick nap (we arrived back in Cambridge at 3am), before a bright and early start to play Bristol! Raring to go, or semi-awake…I personally slept the whole journey and managed to miss a road block, two police cars and an ambulance, and possibly some interesting gossip…. A larger team- a full contingent of 13- was appreciated as we really could play high intensity against this team who beat us quite solidly last time.

The first quarter. We were prepared for the strength of the Bristol team, and right from the word go made sure that we kept their strong players marked at all times, and as far from the goal as possible. Unfortunately, this seemed to make little difference to some, as one of their girls was as happy shooting from 10m as from 2. She notched up 3 goals in this section, and proceeded to score 69% of the team’s total. A tough opponent, one of a few which caused a fair few exclusions and an unfortunate penalty in the 3rd quarter. A lovely loopy shot from Frances Turrell ensured that we ended the first 7 minutes only 3-1 down, a marked improvement from the 12-1 of our first game vs Bristol.

We then saw a lovely first ever BUCS goal from Becky Mackett, new to waterpolo this year, in the last two seconds of the quarter, and another beauty from Captain Schubert. Alas, despite some strong defence from Giardinello and Irwin, they managed to pop another 5 in, to reach half time 3-8 down.

Regular subbing and a fighting spirit meant we kept Bristol on their toes and did not allow them to become complacent. A third set of 7 minutes saw two goals from Turrell and Schubert, though Flaherty was blocked by some solid defence. In a fit of enthusiasm, Captain Laura made a double-quick substitution of the entire bench… only to find that there were two seconds of the quarter remaining.

By the fourth quarter it was clear that we were not going to be able to bring the match back, but carried on playing well, with a wonderful ending goal by Irwin, who had been doing a sterling job to keep a key player out of the match, and some great tackling by Katie Purohit. We finished 6-16, but on reflection we had played a very good game, and anyway Chantelle Doran had made brownies and flapjacks (for the one peculiar member of our team who actively dislikes chocolate) so we promptly forgot about everything else… until our good Captain reminded us that we had 2 hours before we had to be back in the Leys in Cambridge for our Saturday training.

Men’s 1st Draw Against Bristol: the top of their league

By James Ganendra

The team set off to Northampton not thinking about our slim chances: Bristol had defeated us early on in the year by a solid 19-9 margin and have reigned supreme in our league since as far back as anyone can remember. We never doubted ourselves; instead we made sure to focus on delivering the most hellish, mouth-watering game of water polo to ever scorch the surface of the earth. Adam Streeter massaged frankincense oil across his chiseled jawline in a pre-game routine that he picked up in the Middle East, while Patrick Charles gurgled the last remnants of his burger from Weatherspoon’s. Before we knew it, we entered into the post-apocalyptic expanse of water, knowing we would make history.

The Water Polo team taking on their opposition from BVSC on tour in Budapest.
The Water Polo team taking on their opposition from BVSC on tour in Budapest.

As soon as the game started, it became clear that Bristol wanted to play a rough game and were getting rowdy. However, a strong set-up by Cambridge meant that our skill triumphed the ball-crushing physicality they tried to impose. Some strong pressing, outfield blocking and great communication meant that their signature far out shots rarely converted into goals. Fitness became our strength as we bolted up and down the pool, with constant rotation of players meaning everyone was at full intensity whilst in the water.

The solid Light Blue defence meant we were behind by only a very narrow margin for a lot of the match, and Youssef Badr knew he needed to step in. “Join me in my journey to success” he exclaimed, splashing in with his thick, pornstar chest hair and a hand signal one could only interpret as “bless up”. He went on to win MOTM with a fantastic performance of solid deliveries and plays .With a great effort by this man and many others, we started leading. Rob Gourley kept the game spicy with a shocker of a goal from halfway that made even the shooters for Bristol gape in awe.

By the final minute, we were tied and it became a gruelling battle to see who could score a game-winning goal. However, some impressive ‘keeping at the Bristol end meant it was not to be and the final score was 11-11.

All in all, it was a great success and the boys should be super proud. Our game was strong as we combined a furious, blasting energy with calculating precision and thoughtfulness. Bring on the next!

Women’s Water Polo Easily Overpower Oxford

By Alice Hobson

We arrived on poolside, jealous of Oxford’s polo facilities, and unable to breathe in our new suits. “Don’t react, grab them first!” was Laura’s rallying cry as the starting seven jumped in the water. It sounds like the motto of a lad-on-the-pull, but is in fact a totally legitimate water polo attitude to take. It certainly paid off for us, and we came home with an 11-4 victory, our second win against Oxford this year.

The first quarter saw Cambridge take a comfortable lead, with Kate and Laura’s goals boosting us to 3-0. Oxford certainly did get the ball down and try to score, but Lucy was incredible at deflecting all their attempts. Having spent the past week facing terrifying Hungarian teenagers on winter training camp, she found the relatively gentle shots of the Oxford women easy to handle.

In the second quarter, Oxford came back with a goal in the first 30 seconds. Their luck was short-lived, however, and that was their only goal of the quarter. Laura and Kate shot two more for Cambridge, so the score was a nice 5-1 by the end. It was also Liv’s debut in a match, and she did amazingly!

In some ways, the third quarter continued just as the first two had – Kate and Laura scored goals. In other ways, however, it was a little different. After graduating, Robbo’s college grandmother, Rosanna, made the unadvisable decision to move to Oxford, and to play water polo. Robbo was overcome by feelings of betrayal, and fouled her grandmother, which resulted in her being sent off. Once Robbo was back in the game, what was left of their familial relationship continued to disintegrate, as she managed to take the ball from her granny. This quarter also saw a ball mix up, which resulted in us playing with a men’s ball. Partly because we have hands big enough to deal with Size 5 balls, partly because we were grabbing first, and partly because Kate and Laura were on a roll, the quarter left us with an 8-4 lead.

The final quarter brought in some new goal scorers, with Frances, Laure and Laura bringing the score up to 11-4. “But why did Kate stop scoring goals?” I hear you ask. Well, Kate and Lucy had swapped, and Kate was defending our goal against Oxford’s final attempts to equalise. Needless to say, they scored no goals.

Players of the match went to Lucy for some fabulous saves which made it much less stressful for those watching on the bench! And to Kate, who literally was just picking the ball from them in defence, they couldn’t keep it and she did an excellent job of communicating and telling people where they should be.

Overall, the match was fast-paced and fun, and a fantastic game to throw us back into a term of water polo!