History

The Annual Varsity Swimming Match against Cambridge University has been the main focus of OUSC’s competition calendar for 127 years and is the oldest swimming event in the world, preceding the modern Olympic Games by 4 years! Its only suspensions have been during the First and Second World Wars.

The very first matches were hosted at the Kensington Pools in London, and were open to men only. Each competition consisted of three individual freestyle events, with two swimmers from Oxford and two from Cambridge competing in each event. The exact distances of the races were not verified, and often varied year on year; sprints were usually around 100m and a quarter mile, whilst middle distance events varied between 100 years to 174-240 during the 1890s. A competitor gained 5 points for their university for a 1st place finish, 3 for 2nd and 1 for 3rd place. The overall winner was the university which won the most individual events.

In 1897, a team event was added and each university put forward seven swimmers to compete. The team event had no effect on the outcome of the Varsity Match, however, as the victorious university was still that who won the most individual events. This programme remained until the 1920s, when a points system was introduced in 1926. However, this was not standardised and as new events entered the programme, the total points changed year on year.

1921 also saw the introduction of the Women’s Varsity Match, although the event was held separately from the men’s. The format of this event was strikingly differed to that of the men’s, as the event distances were halved and the relay consisted of only five swimmers. The programme also contained a plunge, style swimming and diving.

Some of the earliest women to represent Oxford University in the Annual Varsity Swimming Match. The photograph is of the 1928 women’s team.

By the 1930s, the men’s competition had gained events and the programme consisted of:

  • 100 yards freestyle
  • 220 yards freestyle
  • 440 yards freestyle
  • 200 yards breaststroke
  • 100-150 yards backstroke
  • Medley relay of backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle
  • Freestyle relay consisting of four swimmers

This was later extended to include butterfly and individual medley events, as well as a full medley relay during the 1950s. The Varsity Match included a butterfly event in 1953 – two years before it even became an official competitive stroke! The scoring system also changed to the one recognised today.

Official results from 1926-2018

So Far Cambridge have won a known 50 Varsity matches and Oxford have won 31.  

YearCambridge pointsOxford pointsWinner
20198793Oxford
20189090Draw
201779101Oxford
20169189Cambridge
201567110Oxford
201472108Oxford
201363117Oxford
201271108Oxford
20119386Cambridge
20108397Oxford
20098990Oxford
200867110Oxford
20079278Cambridge
200610466Cambridge
200511057Cambridge
200410466Cambridge
20039970Cambridge
200210466Cambridge
200110367Cambridge
20008980Cambridge
 1968-1999Know these results?Please contact us! 
19675234Cambridge
19664739Cambridge
19654739Cambridge
19644145Oxford
19634145Oxford
19624540Cambridge
19614046Oxford
19604442Cambridge
19594739Cambridge
195833.552.5Oxford
195742.543.5Oxford
19565135Cambridge
19554640Cambridge
19544531Cambridge
19534927Cambridge
19523036Oxford
195138.527.5Cambridge
1950???
19491142Oxford
19481736Oxford
19473419Cambridge
19462528Oxford
1945No match
1944No match
1943No match
1942No match
1941No match
1940No match
19392528Oxford
19383023Cambridge
19373617Cambridge
19362231Oxford
19352330Oxford
19342230Oxford
19333518Cambridge
1932238Cambridge
19311318Oxford
19301916Cambridge
19292510Cambridge
1928237Cambridge
19271119Oxford
19261218Oxford

Official results from 1892-1926

YearCambridge eventsOxford eventsEvents drawnWinner
1925201Cambridge
1924102Cambridge
1923300Cambridge
1922????
19212.50.50Cambridge
1920120Oxford
1919120Oxford
1918No match
1917No match
1916No match
1915No match
1914300Cambridge
1913210Cambridge
19122.50.50Cambridge
1911300Cambridge
19102.50.50Cambridge
1909210Cambridge
1908????
1907????
1906102Cambridge
1905201Cambridge
1904102Cambridge
1903300Cambridge
1902300Cambridge
1901201Cambridge
1900021Oxford
1899102Cambridge
1898????
1897030Oxford
1896021Oxford
1895300Cambridge
1894300Cambridge
1893201Cambridge
1892102Cambridge

Seconds Match Results 2018-2019

YearCambridgeOxfordWinner
2019Cambridge
2018Cambridge