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Boat Race rowers complain about too much 'poo in the water' after loss

Boat Race rowers complain about too much 'poo in the water' after loss

Competitors were wading through pollution in the River Thames

Rowers from the University of Oxford have proved that even a paddle won't help you when you're heading up s**t creek.

The team were defeated during the annual Boat Race against Cambridge on Saturday (30 March) in the River Thames and they reckon the amount of faeces floating in the water had a lot to do with it.

Participants have told how they had been throwing up on the morning of the legendary clash before they embarked on the four mile route which stretched between Putney and Mortlake.

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Cambridge were the champions of both the men and women's races over the weekend, although it was a close call when the blokes were battling it out in their boats.

Although the Oxford team were the favourites at the bookies, they struggled to overtake their competitors who had a more than ten second lead - even though one of their rower's was on the brink of collapsing towards the end.

Cambridge stroke Matt Edge was seen slumping back into the lap of one of his teammate's as they neared the finish line and clinched a victory.

Rival team captain Leonard Jenkins congratulated his opponents on their triumph, but he also pointed out that the influx of poo in the water seemed to have impacted his team's performance.

Ahead of the 2024 Boat Race, serious concerns were raised about the high levels of E.coli which were found in the Thames and rowers were warned to steer clear of the water as much as they possibly could.

Rowers were wading through highly polluted water.

The bacterium - which is found in poo - can cause a range of health woes, such as urinary tract infections, cystitis, intestinal infections and vomiting, while severe cases can lead to life-threatening blood poisoning.

Competitors were told to cover up any open wounds while the tradition of the team flinging the winning cox out of their boat in celebration was abandoned due to safety fears.

It recently emerged that data from Thames Water which was analysed by London's City Hall showed that the number of hours in which sewage was pumped into the 215 mile-long river more than quadrupled in the last year.

Throughout the last nine months of 2023, a whopping 6,590 hours of sewage spills were recorded - while figures from 25 to 31 December revealed that sewage was dumped for 18 hours a day on average amid spells of heavy rainfall.

Cambridge stroke Matt Edge nearly collapsed as they neared the finish line.

Jenkins told BBC Sport following the loss: "It’s been a great battle. Maybe experience [was the difference]? I’m not sure. I didn’t expect it to be such a big difference.

"I will also say, and it’s in no way to take away from Cambridge, we’ve had a few guys go down pretty badly with the E. coli strain. This morning I was throwing up and I really wasn’t sure there was a chance for me to be in the boat.

"I kept that quiet, that’s on my shoulders. I’m not sure if that was the right choice because I didn’t feel like I had much to give. But it would have been taking one of the top guys out of Isis [the Oxford reserve boat] and ruining their chances.

"I felt like we needed to give them a fair fight. It would have been ideal to not have so much poo in the water.

"That’s not to take away from Cambridge, I don’t know if we would have had a chance to beat them even if we were all on form."

Oxford men’s cox, William Denegri, claimed that three people were struck down by illness earlier this week.

He told The Guardian: "This week we’ve had three people who’ve had to miss sessions because they’ve had stomach bugs. Whether that’s related to E.coli in the river, I don’t know.

"But it’s certainly not helped our campaign. That’s a poor excuse, it’s not an excuse, but it’s definitely not helped our preparation."

Cambridge's men and women's teams both triumphed.

The team's coach, Sean Bowden, described the state of the Thames as a 'national disgrace' and said the reports of the amount of E.coli in the water were 'very concerning'.

A Thames Water spokesperson told LADbible: "Taking action to improve the health of rivers is a key focus for us and we want to lead the way with our transparent approach to data.

"We remain the only company to provide live alerts for all untreated discharges and this ‘near real-time’ data is available to customers as a map on our website and is also available through an open data platform for third parties, such as swimming and environmental groups to use.

"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.

"The overflows are designed to operate automatically when the sewer network is about to be overwhelmed which then releases diluted wastewater into rivers, rather than letting it back up into people’s homes.

"We are working hard to make these discharges unnecessary and have published plans to upgrade over 250 of our sites, including a £100 million upgrade of our Mogden sewage treatment works in South West London to treat the high volumes of incoming sewage and reduce the need for overflows during wet weather."

A spokesperson for the Boat Race also told LADbible: "The Boat Race is aware of Leonard Jenkins’ comments about a sickness bug affecting their preparations this week.

"We’re not in a position to speculate about the causes of this sickness bug but we have contacted Oxford University Boat Club to seek further clarity."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Health, London, News, Sport, UK News