Oxford-Cambridge boat race rowers warned to avoid water after E. coli find | CNN (2024)

Oxford-Cambridge boat race rowers warned to avoid water after E. coli find | CNN (1)

Cambridge coxswain Jasper Parish is thrown in the River Thames by teammates after winning the men's race last year.

London CNN

Concern is growing over levels of sewage pollution in London’s River Thames after E. coli bacteria was discovered ahead of this weekend’s historic Oxford v. Cambridge boat race.

Rowers taking part in the contest are being told to avoid direct contact with the water due to “alarmingly high levels” of the bacteria, which can cause a range of infections.

The annual boat race, which involves teams from the historic British universities, has been held since 1829 and draws crowds of hundreds of thousands to the banks of the Thames in west London. Winners often celebrate by jumping into the river, but new guidance calls into question the safety of the tradition as worries increase about the dumping of raw sewage into rivers and seas around the United Kingdom.

Water quality testing at 16 sites near Hammersmith Bridge, roughly halfway along Saturday’s 4.2-mile route, found high levels of “dangerous” E. coli bacteria, according to campaign group River Action who carried out the examination.

An aerial view shows the Thames Water Long Reach water treatment facility on the banks of the Thames estuary in Dartford, east of London, on March 3, 2023. UK water company Thames Water, one of the UK's largest, has started releasing an interactive map of its waste water discharges into waterways after a beach pollution scandal last summer. Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images Related article Britain’s water industry crisis: Sewage spills, huge leaks and crushing debts

The recent testing found an average of 2,863 E.coli colony forming units (CFU) per 100ml (three fluid ounces) of water, rising to 9,801 CFU in the highest reading. To meet the UK Environment Agency’s inland bathing water quality standards, E. coli levels should be below 1,000 CFU per 100ml.

Sean Bowden, Oxford University’s rowing coach, said he was worried about the pollution. “It’s a concern,” he told Thursday’s Telegraph newspaper. “And I’m really glad the papers are pursuing the water companies on it. I am right with them. It’s a national disgrace, isn’t it?

“It would be terrific if the Boat Race drew attention to it. We are very keen to play a part and we recognize we have a role and a responsibility to it,” he added.

E. coli can cause a wide range of health issues, including intestinal, urinary tract and bladder infections, alongside other symptoms such as stomach cramps and vomiting. Some strains of E.coli can even lead to life-threatening sepsis.

“We are in a tragic situation when elite athletes are issued with health guidance ahead of a historic race on the capital’s river,” River Action’s CEO James Wallace said in a statement. “Everyone should be able to enjoy our rivers and seas without risking their health.”

The new guidance, issued by British Rowing, River Action and The Rivers Trust, advises rowers to cover all open cuts and avoid direct contact with the water when launching or recovering a boat from the river.

It also adds that rowers should refer themselves to a healthcare professional if they accidentally swallow river water. The guidance has been issued to both universities in briefing packs ahead of this weekend’s race, River Action said.

Oxford-Cambridge boat race rowers warned to avoid water after E. coli find | CNN (3)

The Oxford boat sinks after only half a mile, during the annual University boat race against Cambridge on March 24, 1951.

The health warnings come as figures from the UK Environment Agency highlighted record-breaking frequency of sewage spills by privatized water companies across England last year. Sewage was dumped into rivers and seas across the country for 3.6 million hours in 2023, more than double the previous year, according to the latest data.

The water company blamed for discharging sewage into the Thames stressed that E. coli was a naturally occurring organism and likely to be present in floodwater. A Thames Water spokesman said: “We have experienced higher than average long-term rainfall across London and the Thames Valley, with groundwater levels exceptionally high for the time of the year.”

Feargal Sharkey, a water campaigner and former singer of The Undertones, told the BBC this was “yet again another complete and utter shambles,” adding that the UK government had “lost control” of the water industry.

Other environmental campaigners agreed. “Scandalous inaction by water companies has pushed our ecosystems to the brink and is putting our health at risk,” Sienna Somers, a nature campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said.

Oxford-Cambridge boat race rowers warned to avoid water after E. coli find | CNN (2024)

FAQs

Oxford-Cambridge boat race rowers warned to avoid water after E. coli find | CNN? ›

coli bacteria was discovered ahead of this weekend's historic Oxford v. Cambridge boat race

boat race
The Boat Race is an annual set of rowing races between the Cambridge University Boat Club and the Oxford University Boat Club, traditionally rowed between open-weight eights on the River Thames in London, England. It is also known as the University Boat Race and the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › The_Boat_Race
. Rowers taking part in the contest are being told to avoid direct contact with the water due to “alarmingly high levels” of the bacteria, which can cause a range of infections.

What happened in the 1978 Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race? ›

Umpired by former Cambridge rower James Crowden, Oxford won in a time of 18 minutes and 58 seconds. The race was complicated by bad weather, and when faced with choppy water, a strong headwind and horizontal, driving rain, the Cambridge boat, which lacked splashboards, took on water and sank.

Has there ever been a dead heat in the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race? ›

It is also known as the University Boat Race and the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. There has been one dead heat, recorded in 1877.

In which year were female rowers in the famous Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race first allowed to compete on the same course as their male counterparts? ›

The first men's race was in 1829, becoming an annual race in 1856, but the women's race did not start until 1927 and it is only this year that women take on the same course as the men.

Why did the annual Oxford and Cambridge boat race have to re run in 1912? ›

In 1912, the race was run in very poor weather conditions and both teams sank after their boats began to fill with water. Despite Oxford's early lead, the race was abandoned and rescheduled for the following day. The 1877 race was declared a dead heat by race judge John Phelps and neither team won.

Was the Oxford rower sick after the Boat Race? ›

Oxford rower Leonard Jenkins complained of an outbreak of E. Coli in the camp after defeat against Boat Race rivals Cambridge on the Thames.

When did Oxford boat sink? ›

Cambridge sank in 1859 and 1978, Oxford in 1925 and 1951, and both boats went down in 1912 when the race was started in a virtual gale.

What happened to Felix in the Oxford Boat Race today? ›

Felix Drinkall collapsed at the end of the race and quickly received medical attention. But according to Guardian reporter Daniel Harris the rower is feeling okay. He said: "Good news: Felix Drinkall is OK, we're told, en route to hospital for check-ups."

Who has won more boat races Oxford or Cambridge? ›

As of the 2024 race, Cambridge lead overall in the competition with 87 victories to Oxford's 81; the 1877 race was declared a "dead heat". Cambridge have led Oxford in cumulative wins since 1930. The reserve crews of Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Clubs have also raced against one another since 1967.

What unusual event occurred in the annual Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race in March 1912? ›

From two winners to none at all, the 1912 race was abandoned after both teams sank on their way to the Championship Course finish line. Rough waters coupled with relentless winds forced Cambridge to stop as their boat filled with water.

How long does the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race take? ›

A four-mile, 374-yard dash along the Thames, westward from Putney to Mortlake. The women's course record is held by Cambridge from 2022's race: 18 minutes, 23 seconds. The men's record is also held by Cambridge, set in 1998: 16 minutes, 19 seconds. As we said, Oxford have everything to prove.

Who won the last Oxford Cambridge Boat Race? ›

The Men's Boat Race Results
RaceYearWinner
1662021Cambridge
1652019Cambridge
1642018Cambridge
1632017Oxford
89 more rows

Who normally wins Oxford Cambridge Boat Race? ›

The Men's Boat Race was first raced in 1829 and the Women's Boat Race first took place in 1927. Typically, the event attracts over 250,00 spectators, with many millions more watching on television. After this year's results, Cambridge now have 48-30 and 87-81 leads in the women's and men's races respectively.

What do you wear to the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race? ›

A white cotton shirt will suit any jacket colour. Or pastel shades of pink, yellow or blue match well with navy. Wear without a tie and slightly unbuttoned to adopt the informal style. Once you have chosen your blazer, you need beige, cream or camel-coloured chinos to complete the look.

What is a Boat Race slang? ›

Simply put a boat racing is when one team puts a beat down on another. Example: The Cubs lost 17-1 to the Cardinals last night. What a boat racing? Or the Cubs got boat raced last night. The term can really be used in any sport, but I typically only use it in baseball.

What is a Boat Race drinking? ›

A race begins with all competitors placing their drinks on a mutual table. When a referee begins the race, the first drinker on each team is allowed to pick up their drink and begin drinking. Once a beverage is consumed, the drinker must invert the empty vessel on their head. This is done to ensure no cheating occurs.

What is the history of the Oxford Cambridge Boat race? ›

The Boat Race is an annual event between crews from the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. The Men's Boat Race was first raced in 1829 and is now one of the world's oldest and most famous amateur sporting events. The Women's Boat Race first took place in 1927.

Who won the last Oxford Cambridge boat race? ›

The Men's Boat Race Results
RaceYearWinner
1662021Cambridge
1652019Cambridge
1642018Cambridge
1632017Oxford
89 more rows

What is the name of the Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge? ›

The Boat Race is an annual side-by-side rowing competition between the University of Oxford (sometimes referred to as the "Dark Blues") and the University of Cambridge (sometimes referred to as the "Light Blues").

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