Dressed in just a swimming costume, a hat and goggles, Christ’s swimming Blue - Ellie Mason - is one of a team of six from the University who will swim the Channel in early July.

Ellie, who loves open water swimming, said:

“We expect the temperature to be about 16 degrees. Wetsuits are not allowed so there’s not much protection from the cold water or the jellyfish.”

The 21 mile Varsity Channel Relay, when a team from Cambridge races against a team from the University of Oxford, has usually taken place every other year since 1998.

Each team of three women and three men crosses the channel with a piloted support boat. The relay takes place in hour-long rotations between the six team members until they reach France.

A group of 3 men and 3 women standing
The Team: Ellie, Jas, Evie (captain), Tom, Flynn and Ed

Both teams start in Dover but due to the variation of the French coastline and sea currents, any difference in time under two minutes is counted as a draw. The race usually takes between eight and ten hours.

Training takes place locally in the Jesus Green Lido and the River Cam. Ellie and her team mate Jas (from Newnham College) completed their two-hour qualification swim on 13 May. On that day the temperature at the Lido was below 15.5 degrees – cold enough for the qualifier to take place there.

Ellie, a 2nd year history student, trains two to three times per week in the Lido and the Cam, in addition to five other sessions which are part of general Blues training.

Nearer to the race they will train at the coast to acclimatise to sea conditions and cold water, and to practice the relay takeovers.

The exact date of the race – between 3 and 8 July – is determined by the weather and sea conditions.

The team is raising money for Cancer Research UK and Parkinson’s UK as well as to cover the cost of the challenge.