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!

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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!

Men’s 1st Team Lose to Oxford in their first match back

by Isaac Hinchcliff

Kicking off their Lent term fixture list with a trip to their oldest and fiercest rivals, the Cambridge men’s first team looked to repeat the outcome of their first  fixture with the boys in dark blue in the BUCS league, a solid 13-9 victory at Cambridge’s designated home pool in Northampton. Coming off the back of a fantastic tour in Budapest, in which a combination of intense training and team bonding left the core squad feeling both fitter and more together, this seemed completely achievable. However, as is often the case in Oxbridge crunch matches, form often tends to go out the window…

The first quarter was a tight affair with Cambridge finishing marginally behind at 3-2, after goals from captain Robert Gourley and young hotshot fresher Isaac Hinchliffe. Despite the close scoreline the boys were clearly off the pace. There was not enough of the vintage straight driving and lighting-speed counter attacks that had so troubled the Oxford team in the first meeting this year. Whether or not this was due to the lengthy car travel down or the insufficient warm-up, there was no denying that the Cambridge team were in a state lethargy.

Unfortunately , this early  slowness by the boys was not to go unpunished. In the second quarter Oxford wrestled their way into the driving seat, making good use of their physicality to capitalise on the lapses in concentration from the light blues. The quarter ended badly for Cambridge, at 8-4, leaving them a hefty task if they were to go on and clinch the game in the second half.

Despite this, and what seemed like an early sucker-punch goal from Oxford to make it 9-4, the Cambridge boys came storming back in the third quarter and dominated the Oxford team. We started to see much more of that blistering pace that Cambridge usually use so well with speedsters like Alex Norcliffe and James Mok tearing up and down the pool and exposing the wilting stamina of the Oxford players. However, one man above any other sparked this Cambridge revival. In the third quarter the Rosenblatt crowd was treated to what one could only describe as the Robert Gourley show. The co-captain and ex-Great Britain star, hauled the team back into the game with a brilliant goal rush. Tearing up and down the pool, the man was clearly on a mission, leaving helpless defenders in his wake and mercilessly humiliating the keeper with a quite frankly offensive lob at one point. At the end of the quarter the bench reported his claims of back pain from “carrying the whole team”. However, it was not just the attacking prowess of Robert Gourley which got the boys back into the game. Even more vital was the even fiercer and more agressive defending for the team that ex-pit man Patrick Charles was at the heart of. He performed outstandingly at the back, keeping the the centre forward position under lock and key with some very smart and measured defending allowing us to stump the Oxf*** boys. After this revival, Cambridge were right back in  the match at 9-7 despite also missing a fair number of important chances.

The fourth quarter started in a familiar vain, with fresher Hinchliffe again popping up on five meters to sling in a clever bounce shot into the left hand side of the goal to put the Cambridge to within  a goal of their ancient rivals. Unfortunately, however, the boys came to rue their missed chances and when the Oxford team eventually regained their foothold in the game, the match started to slip away in the dying stages, despite continued hard work from the Cambridge team. Although team golden boy and star player Ben Tinkler-Davies popped up late on to slap in from two meters in the dying stages, it was too little, too late.

The game finished 13-10 despite a late flourish from Cambridge and the lads were left feeling disappointed but not disheartened  by the game’s outcome. It was a very hard-fought game of fine margins, and will provide important lessons for the onslaught of BUCS matches to come this term and fire on the team for the imminent varsity match in Cambridge on the 25th of February. A valiant performance by the light blues and one which leave them confident they can progress as a side as the season continues.

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Water Polo teams return from tour: hungry for victory!

“”‘Tour is go!’ – Ben Walker” – Péter Juhasz” – Rhys Goodall

On the 8th of January, miraculously, every UK-based member of the men’s and women’s water polo team met at Stansted Airport for the two hour flight to Budapest. Full from the weeks of break and holiday-ing, the teams were ready to dive into training, but on the first evening they most definitely were not ready for the -15 weather that Budapest had to offer.

Despite the cold, the teams bundled up every morning and made the short walk to the BVSC Zuglo Training Facilities. The facilities boasted at least three indoor, double deep pools and additional kiddie and outdoor pools, a nice contrast to the BUCS regulation non-compliant Ley’s pool. For two and a half hours every morning that week, the teams claimed the 50m pool, rebuilding their strength and stamina, and working on basic drills and new techniques away from the distractions of the usual Cambridge term. Rob Gourley, men’s co-captain this year, accurately surmised “not only was tour this year essential for working on tactics in the water for the team, but also for team bonding, with social events occurring most nights.”

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In true water sport style, every non-training and non-eating activity was still on water. From an afternoon at Aquaworld Water Park, filled with heart-stopping slides and traditional saunas, to a ‘rest-morning’ of skating – the teams couldn’t escape water, in whatever form it came. And as we adapted to the cold (in reality the temperature just rose) the streets of Budapest become home to the usual water polo tour antics; TJ’s carrying hats and following friends, while Péter and Balint kept us from getting too bewildered and lost.

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Cambridge men’s team about to score

In the afternoons, with the help of Péter, matches against the local teams were arranged. The men and women were in the water for an hour and a half each, learning what it meant to play against teenagers who’d been trained for water polo from infancy. Half of the women’s team had only taken up the sport in October, and their growth and development throughout tour was incredible. By the last matches, which the British Ambassador to Hungary came to watch, everyone was a lot more confident. Though we didn’t keep score, the men’s team may have even won their match.

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After a wonderful farewell dinner, and a few new fines, the teams were ready to return to the pleasant Cambridge weather, ready to play 8 matches within the next three weeks, and, most importantly, ready for Varsity 2017! #GDBO

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“Here’s to tour 2018!” – Rob Gourley