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Helicopter to watch over Rottnest Island channel swimmers

Swimmers participating in the 2019 Rottnest Channel Swim will be supported with additional safety measures, including a dedicated event helicopter.

The Rottnest Channel Swim Association (RCSA) – the official, not-for-profit body that ratifies all crossings of the Rottnest Channel – made the announcement today in the lead up to solo registrations for the 2019 event opening on October 22.

The 19.7km Rottnest Channel Swim is one of Australia’s largest mass-participation open water swimming events, attracting more than 6,500 swimmers and support crew each year.

Additional safety measures for the 2019 event include:

  • A dedicated event helicopter to innovate safety procedures;
  • Implementation of an emergency text-based communication system to all swimmers and skippers;
  • Additional official boats to assist swimmers in adhering to Rottnest Channel Swim crossing rules;
  • Satellite based emergency communications to key on-water stakeholders; and
  • Improved communications to swimmers and support crew about evacuation policies and procedures prior to event day.

RCSA President Iain McCarrey said the safety and wellbeing of participants is the Association’s highest priority.

“The Rottnest Channel Swim Association reviews its event processes and measures each year,” Iain said. “2018 saw the Association evacuate swimmers for the first time in the 28-year history of the event and that experience gave us invaluable insights into areas that required further prioritisation and refinement.

“The Rottnest Channel Swim receives exceptional support from the Westpac Surf Life Saving helicopter, Fremantle Sea Rescue, local surf life-saving clubs and RCSA race officials. As a not-for-profit association, any additional expenses are felt keenly, but the value of supplementary and innovative safety measures can never be underestimated.”

Post-event reviews have also led to a decision by the RCSA not to repeat the Cotto Swim – a 1km and 3km open water swim off Cottesloe beach that was trialled at the 2018 event.

“While the Cotto swim was very popular in 2018, the Association acknowledges there are many open water swim options of shorter distances around Perth throughout summer, hosted by surf life-saving clubs, Masters Swimming and Swimming WA,” Iain said.

“The Association wants to ensure focus is on its core goal of facilitating swimmers in undertaking a safe crossing of the Rottnest Channel.”

Registrations for the 2019 Rottnest Channel Swim open from 8.30am (AWST) on Monday 22 October 2018. For more information on registration dates and deadlines visit rottnestchannelswim.com.au.

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