King’s College swimming ban sparks mass protest

ACORN members got into the water at around 12:00pm to take part in the swim whilst being watched over by a lifeguard.

ACORN members got into the water at around 12:00pm to take part in the swim whilst being watched over by a lifeguard. - Credit: Caitlin Cheshire

A community group took a running jump to oppose a college’s earlier ban on swimming and boating.   

The novel protest took place on Saturday as group members swam in the River Cam at Grantchester Meadows to highlight their cause.   

ACORN Cambridge, the community and tenants’ union, organised a mass swim with other members of the public invited along.  

ACORN’s main demands were -   

  • Remove all ‘no swimming’ signs   

  • Install safe swimming and boating access points   

  • Getting bins to prevent littering   

  • Consulting the wider community in the future regarding access and use of the Meadows.   

ACORN say they want the college and local authorities to ensure possible restrictions on river swimming there are abandoned.

ACORN say they want the college and local authorities to ensure possible restrictions on river swimming there are abandoned. - Credit: Caitlin Cheshire

ACORN Cambridge held the mass protest swim at Grantchester Meadows, to oppose King’s College swimming ban

ACORN Cambridge held the mass protest swim at Grantchester Meadows, to oppose King’s College swimming ban. - Credit: Caitlin Cheshire


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ACORN say they want the college and local authorities to ensure possible restrictions on river swimming there are abandoned.   

Before the swim, ACORN members gave speeches about the swimming ban before taking to the water; a lifeguard kept watch.  

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King’s College had previously said they will not now enforce any ban but said they “cannot take any action on changing the ban or signage until they have the support of local authorities”.   

Evan Wroe, a member of ACORN Cambridge, said: “I’m fed up of King’s and the rest of the university bullying us.  

“It was great to be out with ACORN and other local people, showing them that we won’t just stand by and let them take away access to the Meadows, which we need now more than ever.”   

Another member who attended the protest commented that “We want to remind King’s that this is a place everyone enjoys: families, workers, and students.   

“Over 20,000 people have signed a petition to King’s, and we have also met dozens of swimmers taking part in a yearly swim through the River Cam who were very opposed to King’s actions.   

“We ask that they revoke the ban and meet our demands so that people can safely enjoy the meadows”.  

Before the swim, ACORN members gave speeches about the swimming ban before taking to the water; a lifeguard kept watch

Before the swim, ACORN members gave speeches about the swimming ban before taking to the water; a lifeguard kept watch. - Credit: Caitlin Cheshire

ACORN Cambridge held the mass protest swim at Grantchester Meadows, to oppose King’s College swimming ban

ACORN Cambridge held the mass protest swim at Grantchester Meadows, to oppose King’s College swimming ban. - Credit: Caitlin Cheshire

County council leader Lucy Nethsingha believes a refreshed management plan to allow people to use the area safely is needed.  

King’s College say they have “absolutely no desire to prevent responsible use of the river”.  

But they insist they have a legal responsibility to try to deter activities which may result in harm.  

The row broke after the college put up a sign including a ban on ‘wild swimming’.   

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