SAM HOBBS checks up on the progress of both Blues water polo teams.

Blues Cambridge Sport swimming Varsity water polo

The last time I played water polo I was nearly drowned by a superior player. All I can remember is my life flashing before my eyes as a Michael Phelps swim-a-like used me to blur the lines between competitive sport and waterboarding.

However, as a student at Fitzwilliam, I know all about what goes on in the pool, so off I went to meet Hamish Crichton and Anna Sutcliffe, captains of the Men’s and Women’s Blues teams.

Varsity is coming, and the Blues smell blood. The captain, Anna Sutcliffe, had this to say: “If we could win as comfortably as we did last year (11-5), that would be great. We’re a much stronger team than last year and, providing Oxford haven’t acquired any magical players this year, we should be fine.”

The men seem similarly positive, skipper Hamish highlighting their recent successes against the arch enemy: “A lot of us who are leaving this year have never lost to Oxford. Playing at home is great, the pool down at Parker’s Piece has a big stand and it was rammed two years ago, so hopefully it’ll be the same again.”

Things have been going undeniably well for both sides so far. The men have succeeded in uniting a multi-national team, while the women have won all the matches in their league. Despite this, Hamish doesn’t want a loss of focus: “To be competing nationally is what we’re aiming for, not just beating Oxford. Obviously we want to be beating Oxford, but that’s not all there is to it.”

The teams are certainly working hard. “The girls are in the pool four times a week as well as having a land session every week,” said Anna. The men have six sessions in the water and on top of that “are expected to do their own gym work.” It’s clearly not a sport for the faint-hearted.

From what I remember of water polo it can be a bit of a dirty sport with plenty of dastardly deeds going on underwater where the referee can’t see. Hamish was happy to acknowledge this: “There’s stuff that goes on that the refs can’t see. They know that there are things happening that they can’t see, but they have to play what they can see.” Anna agreed: “I ended last term with a fractured rib, but that’s quite rare! You get the odd broken finger, but that’s more the ball than anything else.”

And what are Water Polo players like when they’re out and about on dry land? Certain University teams have garnered themselves reputations both positive and negative, so what of the boys and girls from the pool? “The guys who are playing Uni are very athletic and they have the egos to go with it,” said Hamish, although they both felt that they weren’t too different from any other fault. And is there ever any mischief on swaps? “That would be telling!” laughed Anna.

They certainly seem to be a tight-knit bunch with all the right qualities to get the result they want against Oxford. We wish them the best of luck and hope they can continue their fantastic run against The Other Place.

The women’s team after a recent match

Varsity Water Polo takes place on Saturday 9th Feb at Parkside Swimming Pool.