The varsity 2017 match report written by Lauren Burton:
We came, we swam, we shoed: OUSC won back the Varsity title in style after a bitter defeat last year. The team started in style, despite not having a home advantage, by winning seven out of the first eight events. Fresher Zara Ryan and Juliet Flamank won the first race, the 200 IM, in a convincing 1-2, and in so doing both achieved Blues times. This performance spurred OUSC to a further four 1-2 finishes throughout the match. Matt Courtis and Pete Hensman also achieved Blues times in the 200 IM in one of the most exciting races of the day as they secured first and third place respectively.
OUSC dominated the backstroke events this year with 1-2 finishes in both the women’s and men’s events. Captain Charlotte Newman led by example and finished a full three seconds ahead of the rest of the field, securing a Blues time and vital points over the Tabs. Suzy Norman had a strong finish to procure second place by over one and a half seconds. The men followed this in style as secret weapon Dominic Walker won convincingly in 56.12 seconds with Jamie Towner touching in second after a well-fought race. The determination shown in races that come down to the touch are an indication of the dedication, passion and commitment that OUSC swimmers show.
Next came the 200 freestyle, and Vice-Captain Ellie Winter got revenge over Cambridge and won the women’s race by over two seconds. Fresher Lauren Burton finished in third after a strong final 50. For the men it was a story of tactics as George Stannard and Pete Hensman battled against freestyle-dominant Cambridge; they finished in third and fourth place respectively.
After only five events to recover, Zara Ryan and Juliet Flamank were back in action in the 100 fly. Zara stormed to her second victory of the match whilst Juliet showed incredible team spirit to swim through illness and fight to the wall. The men’s 100 fly was a hard-fought race with three swimmers touching within half a second at half way, but Matt Courtis stormed to a two second victory closely followed by fresher Declan Pang, who achieved his first Blues time.
Following a short break during which many motivational talks and some lactate removal occurred, OUSC continued to set the pool on fire with a 1-2 finish in the women’s 400 free. Fresher Lara Reed won the race by four seconds, followed by Sophia Saller, eventually followed by the Tabs seven seconds later. The men were again up against the dominance of the Cambridge men’s freestylers, but George Stannard and Adam Bagley fought for third and fourth place respectively.
Doctor Torgie Cox soon gave Cambridge a taste of their own medicine by storming to a win in the 100 breaststroke by nearly two seconds. Tamsin McKinnon finished in third place. The men’s 100 breaststroke was one of the most exciting of the day, with Toby Mackay-Champion finishing strongly to secure the win and soon-to-be-OUSC-tattooed David Moore finishing in third.
The last individual of the day was the 100 freestyle. In the women’s race, Lauren Burton fought hard for a second place finish and Helen Close came in fourth. For the men, Captain Dom McLoughlin finished strongly to come third and Dan Luo touched in fourth. The speed was yet to come in the relays…
Relays continue to be one of the highlights of the Varsity programme with every swimmer putting in the extra effort to swim fast for their teammates. The women’s 4×50 medley relay was first, and Charlotte Newman, Torgie Cox, Zara Ryan and Ellie Winter swam a blistering 2:00.34 minutes to set a new club record and win by six seconds. The men’s 4×100 medley quartet of Dominic Walker, Toby Mackay-Champion, Matt Courtis and Jamie Towner saw the women’s winning margin as a challenge and were spurred on to beat the Tabs by an outstanding 10 seconds in a time of 3:47.18 minutes.
Back to 50s for the women’s freestyle relay and Helen Close, Lauren Burton, Charlotte Newman and Ellie Winter stormed to the win in 1:50.78 minutes, securing enough points to end the women’s Varsity match as a 56-34 win for Oxford. After the dominance seen in the individual events, the men were always the underdogs for the 4×100 freestyle relay but swam proudly for OUSC nonetheless to finish in 3:34.82 minutes. This second place finish led to a tie in the men’s Varsity match at 45 points each.
A 56-34 victory in the women’s match and a 45-45 tie in the men’s match meant that Oxford won back the Varsity title by an impressive 101 points to Cambridge’s 79; Oxford won 13 out of the 18 events. The team morale displayed both on V-day and throughout the year is a great asset to OUSC and the philosophy of ‘one team, one dream’ has meant that every member of OUSC contributed to our success at Varsity. Here’s to another year of hard training and many more Varsity victories in the future!