This summer, six Cambridge University open water swimmers will race against their Oxford opponents as a relay, to cross the English Channel from Dover to Calais on the French coast.
Among them, representing Cambridge, will be Banchory’s Jessica Mason.
Jessica, 22, grew up in Banchory and attended Banchory Primary and Banchory Academy.
She now lives in Cambridge and is in her final year of a Chemical Engineering degree.
Jessica learnt to swim with Banchory Beavers from the age of five and progressed through the club.
She swam competitively for five years and, through the Beavers, raced with South Aberdeenshire in the Scottish and British Nationals.
She also taught children in teaching section and coached teenagers.
Jessica is now the swimming captain of the university’s Triathlon Club and has been selected for the university channel crossing team.
This will be the 10th English Channel race against Oxford University, but it is not as well known as the boat race.
The teams swim in a relay; each swimmer does an hour in the race from Dover to Calais.
Following a piloted boat to guide the way, the competitors will be swimming in one-hour stints, with the rest of the team crossing the channel alongside the current swimmer supporting from the deck.
After an hour the next swimmer will enter the water and each hour the team rotates with each team member swimming once or more, until the French coast is reached - typically this takes seven to 12 hours.
Wetsuits are not allowed, so the challenges that face swimmers include the cold, waves, jellyfish, and maintaining the determination to just keep swimming.
As a team the swimmers will be training for months beforehand in open air swimming pools (Jesus Green), the River Cam and the sea.
This is to build up resistance against the cold, increase long-distance fitness and encourage each other as a team - strengthening each other’s will-power.
Every two years since 1998, Cambridge has competed against Oxford in this Varsity Channel Relay Swim.
This year, in July 2016, this will be happening for the 10th time in history and the sqimmers are counting on the support of donations.
To make a donation, visit hwww.crowdfunder.co.uk/varsity-channel-relay-swim-cambridge.
As a reward for your support, you can follow the boat via a GPS tracker online, and regular twitter updates, in this way joining us on the swim.
As a thank you for especially generous pledges, a number of personal gifts and rewards are available- ranging from a postcard with a personal thank you message to the gift of a Cambridge Swim hat.