Cambridge News reports that “the River Cam is a must attraction for people in the summer… Swimming was once the most popular summer pursuit. Competitive events were held at Jesus Green swimming pool, built in 1923, and one of the longest outdoor pools in Europe. In the Sixties there was the annual summer swim in the river, called the Swim Through, with separate events for men and women.”
Times change and attitudes toward river swimming have polarised but the fact remains that the River Cam is a delightful place to swim.
Children were taught to swim at the Sheep’s Green bathing complex. A large rectangular paddling pool is still popular with local children. Adjacent to it, a foot-bridge crosses a tributary of the Cam and the boys’ and girls’ bathing places lie to the left and right respectively. Walking across the field, another bridge separates the men’s and ladies’ quarters. For the men a five-stage diving board reaching up some fifteen feet, a water chute and a springboard with a tremendous run up ensured the success of the attraction (pictured below). Sadly, river bathing officially came to an end here in the 1960s and interest was transferred to the open-air pool on Jesus Green.
Even so the upsurge in Open water swimming and the new life breathed into it by David Walliams and his two million pound charity swim for Sports Relief in the Thames means that more and more people are returning to the river.