The club was founded in 1855. Training took place at first in the River Cam at the University Bathing Sheds at Grantchester Meadows. The club entered galas held against London swimming clubs and competed in inter-collegiate competitions. The events involved distances ranging from 30 yards to a quarter of a mile, and included plunging, steeplechase, a race in clothes and water polo. The first men's water polo Varsity Match was held in 1891 and the first men's swimming Varsity Match in the following year. During these years the club was involved in other galas, notably against Otter Swimming Club from 1890, which began a long tradition of links with that club. In its early years the club had no pool and training was restricted to the months of April and June. The opening of a new pool at Leys School in 1906 allowed training to be extended. Between the wars the club flourished. At the end of the Easter Term the Varsity Team embarked on a two week tour of London, culminating in the match against Oxford. A Cambridge University Ladies Swimming Club was founded, and the first ladies swimming Varsity Match was held in 1921. The men's and ladies's clubs merged in 1970, and the following year the ladies were allowed to use the bathing sheds. The first ladies' polo Varsity Match was held in 1983. In 1997 the club changed its name to the Cambridge University Swimming and Water Polo Club (CUSWPC).
From the guide to the Cambridge University Swimming Club: Papers, 1866-1991, (Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives)