From Alpha To Omega, Keeping Everyone Safe In The Water

From Alpha To Omega, Keeping Everyone Safe In The Water

Bill Ewan, President of the New England Masters who will host the 1-mile and 6+ mile Open Water Championships, will establish another safety protocol for the swimmers. “We will be flying the alpha flag on our kayaks. The alpha flag is the most accepted marker for swimmer in the water.”

Over the past 200 years international maritime tradition and law has established a set of signal flags, including the blue-and-white swallow-tailed flag.

The International Code of Signals has established this alpha flag to mean, “I have a diver down; keep well clear at slow speed.”

U.S. Coast Guard regulates its use in Rule 27e (Vessel Engaged in Diving Operations), “Whenever the size of a vessel engaged in diving operations makes it impracticable to exhibit all lights and shapes prescribed in this Rule, the following shall be exhibited:

Three all-round lights in a vertical line where they can best be seen. The highest and lowest of these lights shall be red and the middle light shall be white; a rigid replica of the International Code flag “A” not less than 1 meter in height. Measures shall be taken to ensure its all-round visibility

If the alpha flag is established and recognized internationally for divers who are mostly below the surface of the water, we agree with Bill that it makes a whole lot of sense for swimmers on the surface of the water at all times.

NOTE: Other flags used in the open water swimming world are noted here.

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones