College rowers take on lent bumpsLouis Ashworth for Varsity

The must-try: Rowing

If you’re new to Cambridge, something you’ll quickly realise is that you’re going to hear a lot about rowing. A lot. You tend to either love it or hate it. For some people, it’s a Cambridge classic: the early morning outings are worth it when down the river as the sun rises, or feeling endorphin release after pushing yourself to the limit over a 2km erg. For others, the unexpected pressure to perform, especially at the college level, makes the whole experience less than enjoyable, and it becomes more of a chore than a fun break from study. Whatever your opinion, it can’t be denied that for many people life in Cambridge revolves around rowing, but they wouldn’t have it any other way. If you’re looking for something to base your entire personality around and bring up in every conversation, then this is the sport for you.

Something different

The wide range of sports on offer at Cambridge makes it impossible to cover them all here, but it does mean that there is plenty of opportunity to try something brand new. For example, if you’ve exhausted all of the “typical” ball sports, korfball might be one to try. In simple terms, it is somewhere between netball and basketball. And because it’s played with mixed teams, korfball is also doing its bit to improve gender equality in sport. Alternatively, scrap the ball altogether and opt for something else to throw, like a frisbee. The ultimate club, also known as Strange Blue, is a great one for beginners, but might not be for those more hot-headed players given its lack of referee, relying instead on agreement between players to hold up the spirit of the game.

Running too boring for you? Why not combine it with the challenge of trying to navigate through unfamiliar terrain in orienteering. This way you can really live up to the Cambridge standard of constantly exercising your mind.

Despite being almost 50 miles away from the nearest beach, Cambridge does have a surf society, and I’ve heard that their trips away (likely in search of some actual waves) are not ones to miss. If you’re looking for a water-based team sport, water polo might be one to consider, but personally I don’t need to have my head dunked underwater to enjoy my time in a swimming pool.

University vs college


Mountain View

CUBC success at European Rowing U23 Championships

One of the benefits of Cambridge’s collegiate system is that a range of sports are offered at a college level, particularly useful for those who may not want to commit to training six days a week. While also a great entry level for beginners, the standard of college sports is not something to sniff at, with excellent talent on display especially in the top leagues and matches. Occasional training sessions and weekly matches provide a great way to stay fit and get to know other people in your college without 6am wake-ups for that dreaded strength and conditioning session.

For those seeking this type of rigorous training schedule, university-level sport is the one for you. You can also play against other universities, including in the highly-anticipated, annual varsity matches against the University of Oxford which are the highlights of the Cambridge sporting calendar. Plus, playing in one of these matches can even give you a shot at earning yourself the coveted status of a Cambridge blue, the highest honour awarded to a Cambridge athlete. However if you do achieve this, please try and refrain from bringing it up at every possible opportunity; we haven’t forgotten, we’re just bored of hearing about it.