Trenton Oldfield
Trenton Oldfield who jumped into the water to halt the Oxford vs Cambridge boat race swims in the Thames.

An Australian man has been arrested for disrupting the 158th university boat race between Cambridge University and Oxford University on Saturday.

The race was stopped mid-way when Trenton Oldfield, 35, of Whitechapel, east London, was spotted by race umpire John Garrett's assistant, Sir Matthew Pinsent, the four-time Olympic champion, in the water just after the crews had passed Chiswick Steps.

The Cambridge team won the toss and elected to row from the Surrey side and by the time the two crews passed Fulham Football Club, there was no visible gap between them. At Hammersmith Bridge they were so close it would have required a crowbar to separate them, reported the Telegraph.

Both the teams were still close as the boats approached the Chiswick Steps, when the man was spotted swimming in a black wetsuit in front of the boats in the Thames River. He narrowly escaped getting hit by the Oxford team's oar blades.

The Australian expat is said to be an environmental campaigner who graduated from the London School of Economics. He is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Just before taking to the water Oldfield posted some messages on his blog.

Entitled Elitism Leads to Tyranny, he declared: "This is a protest, an act of civil disobedience, a methodology of refusing and resistance."

"This act has employed guerilla 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 said.

John Garrett halted the race immediately and was re-started 30 minutes later. Cambridge University won it after Oxford University broke one of their oars, reported BBC.

"It was totally unbelievable. We are grateful to Matthew for spotting the swimmer. We thought it was some debris, then we realised it was a swimmer," Garrett told BBC Sport.

"I wasn't sure if he was going to get out of the way in time, it was quite clear he was waiting for the boats to come across him, so I just had to stop the race," he said.

"It was a great shame because the race was developing into an excellent contest," he added.

The arrested man has been charged under the Public Order Act. He will appear at the Feltham Magistrates' Court on 23 April, according to BBC.

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