Do I need to do both swimming and water polo to join CUSWPC?

No, most people don’t do both at the university level. The two branches of the club are separate when it comes to training and competing, but come together for organisational and socialising purposes! However, you’re more than welcome to join both branches if you’d like to.

How can I join the club?

Trials are normally held at the end of Freshers’ Week. Come visit us at the freshers’ fair and the sports freshers’ fair for more information about the club and how to join, but more information will also be available here soon. Swimming and water polo trials are held separately — feel free to attend both! After trials, successful candidates will be contacted by the relevant team captains.

What’s the standard like?

For swimming, there is a First team and a Second team (also called Marlins). Most people selected for the First team have been involved in competitive swimming previously, often at the Regional level or higher. CUSWPC is one of the highest-ranked university clubs in the country according to BUCS (British University and College Sport) and has been home to some very high-flying swimmers. However, the exact selection criteria depend on many factors, including past performance, current fitness levels, number of places available on the team, and gaps in the team that need to be filled. Furthermore, anyone who can swim is welcome to trial and if you are not selected for the First team you might make the Second team, so don’t be shy.

Similarly for water polo, the standard at the top of both the men’s and women’s teams is very high, with the men’s team ranking the top two teams in BUCS in 2020 (before the pandemic cancelled the final) and the women 2nd in 2009. In general, however, the water polo branch of the club is more accessible to the relatively inexperienced and regularly welcomes novices. If you’re thinking of taking up a new sport at university, water polo could be for you!

Unfortunately, we don’t have the facilities to teach swimming. If you’re interested in leisure swimming or in learning to swim, try investigating the programs available at Parkside Pools.

How much of a commitment is it?

The First teams train 5–6 (swimming) or 4–5 (water polo) times per week and members are expected to attend all sessions wherever possible. For elite swimmers and players, or those who just feel they need a little extra pool time, further sessions are available with the City of Cambridge Swimming Club or with Cambridge City Water Polo. More information about these arrangements will be available when you join CUSWPC.

Will I be able to compete?

Yes, absolutely! Both the swimming and water polo teams are major players in the annual BUCS (national inter-university) competitions, and there are various opportunities to participate in other swimming meets and water polo leagues and tournaments too. The highlight of the CUSWPC calendar is the Varsity Match in each sport, our annual clash with the Oxford dark blues. Taking part in Varsity is a unique experience that is not to be missed; hundreds of years of inter-university rivalry rise to the surface and the atmosphere on poolside and among the spectators is electrifying. This is what we train for.

How much does it cost?

“Subscriptions” (annual membership fees that cover general club expenses, mainly pool hire for training) are set each year when the club’s budget is calculated, so they are impossible to predict for certain. However, in 2017–18, members paid £275 for swimming, £235 for women’s water polo and £250 for men’s water polo. Don’t be put off by these numbers — it may seem like a lot at the start of the year, but it’s very good value given the amount of pool time it makes available to you, and there are a number of funding sources that can help you out with the costs involved. For example, many of the colleges offer generous grants to their members who participate in sport at the University level.

What’s the social life like?

Socials with your team mates are a major perk of belonging to a club as friendly and awesome as CUSWPC! Every club member may also become a member of the Tadpoles social society. In addition to the calendar of main events such as the lavish Varsity Dinner, you can look forward to regular “formal halls” at different colleges, “swaps” with other teams, plenty of nights out, summer dips in the Cam, and post-training evenings relaxing over a drink.

I have more questions! What can I do?

Please do not hesitate to contact us. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.