Safety First - Spotting Swimmers From On High

Safety First – Spotting Swimmers From On High

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

John Barrett, president of the Townsville Open Water Swimming Association, shares a story about the Magnetic Island Swim.

In the 2009 Subway Magnetic Island to Townsville Swim, we used a Red Baron bi-plane to take aerial photos, but it was too unstable for video and too noisy for race communications.

In 2010, we applied for and received a grant from our local municipal council to provide additional water safety for the race

The grant included a helicopter and additional course marker buoys. “The helicopter was mainly to be able to spot problems from the air and communicate back to our control center.”

How remarkably useful were those additional resources?

We got some spectacular photos [from the helicopter], but most importantly, a life was saved when one of the swimmers developed chest pains in middle of the race – 4 km out to sea. The link between the helicopter observation and water safety worked and the swimmer was quickly taken to shore by well-trained surf lifesavers.”

A great ending to an incredibly wise investment.

Copyright © 2011 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones