Apr 11, 2012
Half-hour hiatus in race ... the Oxford crew look on as Trenton Oldfield swims in the water. Photo: Getty Images
Having copped a media backlash and online abuse, it was only a matter of time before Trenton Oldfield's bold anti-elitist protest became an internet meme.
Like anyone who makes a splash Mr Oldfield - who jumped into the Thames river to disrupt the 158th annual boat race between Oxford and Cambridge universities - quickly attracted internet pranksters.
Thanks to a YouTube mash-up, Mr Oldfield's name is now synonymous with a labrador named Fenton who became a viral hit after video of his frantic owner trying to stop him chase a mob of deer attracted millions of hits.
The mash-up, which has the audio of Fenton's owner yelling 'Fenton! ... Oh Jesus Christ' over the top of footage of the protest, has since attracted over 40,000 views since being picked up by the British press.
The 35-year-old Australian-born protester continued to make headlines in the UK days after the river plunge, with a range of mixed reactions.
The Guardian's Richard Williams wrote Mr Oldfield had targeted innocent people - the rowers who had trained hard and lost an important moment in their lives.
"However that does not mean sport is always an inappropriate vehicle for the expression of legitimate protest.
"In a world where peaceful demonstrations, such as the march of a million in London against the invasion of Iraq in February 2003, appear to exert no influence at all, sometimes the dramatic gesture is the only one that works."
Historian Tim Stanley described Mr Oldfield's manifesto explaining his swim, posted on a blog before the protest, as "dappy".
"The only unsurprising thing about it is that it wasn't written in crayon," he wrote in London's Daily Telegraph.
"Trenton uses language redolent of the 1960s sociologist to describe the abhorrent evil of … boating along the Thames."
The Independent's Owen Jones defended criticism that Mr Oldfield was a hypocrite because he was educated at Sydney's elite Shore school.
"Of course, if you rail against private education and send your kids to Eton, you're more or less asking for a Daily Mail hatchet job, but if – like Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, George Orwell, Clement Attlee, Tony Benn, and so on – you're not exactly salt-of-the-earth by birth but want a better world, then good for you."