On the Saturday of Summer VIIIs at around 12.30pm a swimmer was sighted amongst the many boats on the river Cherwell, near its confluence with the Isis. He tried to swim away from the two safety aunches that were sent to get him, but was contained before any racing took place.
The identity of the man remains unknown, though his attire of white shirt and black trousers has caused speculation that he was a student in sub fusc. The man was taken to land quickly and received medical treatment. It is unclear how he came to be in the water.
Jesus W2 was one boat that was affected as they rowed up the river to get in position. When they reached the end of Boat House Island, someone from the bank shouted to them to stop rowing. The president of Jesus College Boat Club, Lowri Ifor, commented: “This was before the division set off so it didn’t actually impede any racing – it all went off on time, but it was still quite exciting, and worrying to think what might have happened if he hadn’t been spotted.
“I don’t really have anything to say to the swimmer – but danger of serious injury from blades aside, having seen how filthy the Isis water is I wouldn’t really recommend it as a good bathing spot.
“I think the OURC [Oxford University Rowing Club] team who were running Summer Eights dealt with the situation really well, and the fact that he was spotted and apprehended so quickly is a testament to their marshalling system’s efficiency.”
Ian Maconnachie, a sabbatical officer at OURC, told Cherwell, “We do not believe [the swimmer] was a protester. Assistance was called for between races when a member of the public had been spotted in difficulty in the Cherwell Cut (not in the stretch used by the event at all). We dispatched our launches and first aid and pulled him out of the water.
“The man was confused and disorientated, and was deemed to have needed medical attention, so was taken to an ambulance on the lower stretch of the river by launch once he’d been assessed. He was then taken away from the event. All of this response was coordinated by our First Aid Team (Epione Medical Services), and South Central Ambulance.”
This event has sparked mixed reactions among Oxford students. Izabela Karasinska-Stanley, a Classicist in her first year, commented, “This is just a failed copy of the boat race last year. It’s a shitter version of something already shit. I hope these publicity stunts don’t become a running theme of all Oxford boat races.”
Abdul Huson, a PPEist at Somerville, commented, “What a try-hard that guy was; it’s a shame that he feels like he needs to gain attention by ruining a great summer event.”
Others, however, expressed their support for the swimmer. Mischa Frankl-Duval, a second year at New, said, “Anything that knocks the illgotten lustre off the self-congratulatory circlejerk that is college rowing is ok by me.”