Swimmer Stops Boat Race as Protest Against Elitism
Cites Fulham Palace, Chiswick House and St. Paul's School as reasons for stunt
The University Boat Race had to be stopped this Saturday (April 7th) after a swimmer appeared in front of one of the crews by Chiswick Eyot.
The race marshall was forced to halt both crews after Trenton Oldfield, aged 35, was narrowly missed by the oars of the Oxford crew. He was taken ashore at Chiswick Pier by the Chiswick RNLI lifeboat where eye witnesses report that he received a hostile reception being booed by onlookers.
He was arrested and taken to Chiswick police station where he was later charged with a public order offence.
Trenton Oldfield previously worked with the Thames Strategy - Kew to Chelsea partnership which aims to manage the development of the river in this area. He was based at Hammersmith Town Hall whilst working with the group. Mr. Oldfield was also employed as a consultant to manage the Open Chiswick event in 2008. He has also been a participant in the Great River Swim from Chiswick Pier.
Dr. Karen Liebreich, who worked with Trenton Oldfield on the Thames Strategy - Kew to Chelsea group described his behaviour as “shoddy” and said it was pathetic and for reasons of “self aggrandisement”.
She said she was watching the race from Chiswick Pier and recognised Mr. Oldfield as he was being taken out of the river. He was smiling while the crowds booed him.
Dr. Liebriech who is currently involved with Abundance Chiswick, said :“I’ve seen the amount of work these young people put into this race. My son, Sam, was cox of the winning Oxford team last year. They put in fifty hours a week training and there’s no second chance. He’s ruined it for them.”
In a blog authored by Trenton Oldfield called Elitism Leads to Tyranny the reason given for the disruption of the race was that the stretch of the Thames on which the event takes pace "is also the site of a number of past and present elitist establishments; Fulham Palace, Chiswick House and St Paul's Schools and a large collection of other ‘independent/public/free schools'." He also mentions Putney, condemning Nick Clegg for choosing to live there rather than in his Sheffield constituency.
He says (in capitals in original), "THIS IS A PROTEST, AN ACT OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, A METHODOLOGY OF REFUSING AND RESISTANCE. THIS ACT HAS EMPLOYED GUERRILLA TACTICS. I AM SWIMMING INTO THE BOATS IN THE HOPE I CAN STOP THEM FROM COMPLETING THE RACE AND PROPOSING THE RETURN OF SURPRISE TACTICS. THIS IS ‘PEACEFUL’ ... I HAVE NO WEAPONS (DON’T SHOOT!) MY ONLY FEAR, IS NOT SWIMMING FAST ENOUGH TO GET IN THE RIGHT POSITION TO PREVENT THE BOATS."
He also compares his action to suffragette Emily Davison who threw herself in front of the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby in 1913 in support of votes for women.
Just before the interruption the race was neck and neck and was restarted near Chiswick Eyot but soon afterwards a clash of led to one of the oars of the Oxford crew breaking allowing Cambridge to finish well ahead. A objection from Oxford was rejected and the result was ruled valid.
The Chiswick lifeboat crew were again called into action at the end of the race when a member of the Oxford rowing team collapsed. They attended the scene and, as one of the lifeboat crew is an emergency doctor, were able to provide medical assistance until the rower was taken away in an ambulance leading to muted celebrations from the winning crew. The stricken rower later chatted to crew mates and is expected to make a full recovery.
April 5, 2010