History

The Annual Varsity Swimming Match against Cambridge University has been the main focus of OUSC’s competition calendar for 126 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

 

Year Cambridge points Oxford points Winner
2018 90 90 Draw
2017 79 101 Oxford
2016 91 89 Cambridge
2015 67 110 Oxford
2014 72 108 Oxford
2013 63 117 Oxford
2012 71 108 Oxford
2011 93 86 Cambridge
2010 83 97 Oxford
2009 89 90 Oxford
2008 67 110 Oxford
2007 92 78 Cambridge
2006 104 66 Cambridge
2005 110 57 Cambridge
2004 104 66 Cambridge
2003 99 70 Cambridge
2002 104 66 Cambridge
2001 103 67 Cambridge
2000 89 80 Cambridge
 1968-1999 Know these results? Please contact us!
1967 52 34 Cambridge
1966 47 39 Cambridge
1965 47 39 Cambridge
1964 41 45 Oxford
1963 41 45 Oxford
1962 45 40 Cambridge
1961 40 46 Oxford
1960 44 42 Cambridge
1959 47 39 Cambridge
1958 33.5 52.5 Oxford
1957 42.5 43.5 Oxford
1956 51 35 Cambridge
1955 46 40 Cambridge
1954 45 31 Cambridge
1953 49 27 Cambridge
1952 30 36 Oxford
1951 38.5 27.5 Cambridge
1950 ? ? ?
1949 11 42 Oxford
1948 17 36 Oxford
1947 34 19 Cambridge
1946 25 28 Oxford
1945 No match
1944 No match
1943 No match
1942 No match
1941 No match
1940 No match
1939 25 28 Oxford
1938 30 23 Cambridge
1937 36 17 Cambridge
1936 22 31 Oxford
1935 23 30 Oxford
1934 22 30 Oxford
1933 35 18 Cambridge
1932 23 8 Cambridge
1931 13 18 Oxford
1930 19 16 Cambridge
1929 25 10 Cambridge
1928 23 7 Cambridge
1927 11 19 Oxford
1926 12 18 Oxford

 

 

Official results from 1892-1926

 

Year Cambridge events Oxford events Events drawn Winner
1925 2 0 1 Cambridge
1924 1 0 2 Cambridge
1923 3 0 0 Cambridge
1922 ? ? ? ?
1921 2.5 0.5 0 Cambridge
1920 1 2 0 Oxford
1919 1 2 0 Oxford
1918 No match
1917 No match
1916 No match
1915 No match
1914 3 0 0 Cambridge
1913 2 1 0 Cambridge
1912 2.5 0.5 0 Cambridge
1911 3 0 0 Cambridge
1910 2.5 0.5 0 Cambridge
1909 2 1 0 Cambridge
1908 ? ? ? ?
1907 ? ? ? ?
1906 1 0 2 Cambridge
1905 2 0 1 Cambridge
1904 1 0 2 Cambridge
1903 3 0 0 Cambridge
1902 3 0 0 Cambridge
1901 2 0 1 Cambridge
1900 0 2 1 Oxford
1899 1 0 2 Cambridge
1898 ? ? ? ?
1897 0 3 0 Oxford
1896 0 2 1 Oxford
1895 3 0 0 Cambridge
1894 3 0 0 Cambridge
1893 2 0 1 Cambridge
1892 1 0 2 Cambridge