GPS for documented swims

ChrisBChrisB Issaquah, WAMember
edited April 2017 in Beginner Questions

I see a lot of people that use a SPOT gps device but I have also seen a few Garmin 910XT or 920XT wearers out there.

Am I correct in that the SPOT devices are utilized on the escort boat or kayak only?

I have the Garmin 920XT watch which I use for my open water training. Can I use that to record the GPS data? If so, do I need to modify it (put some tape over the display) or have it in a certain mode to qualify as an unassisted marathon swim?

Any clarification would be appreciated.

evmo
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  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited June 2016

    Good questions!

    The only reason to use a SPOT (and pay their subscription fees) is the ability to transmit data back to civilization via direct satellite link, when no other option (such as cellular data) is available. In other words - if you're way off the grid, and you want friends & family to follow you in real-time, use a SPOT.

    If you just want to record a GPS track for later analysis (not transmit it back to the mainland in real-time), you don't need a SPOT - just a GPS-enabled watch (Garmin, Suunto, etc.) or a smartphone with a GPS tracking app.

    With regard to the rules.... some watches nowadays can be programmed to provide tactile navigational feedback. MSF Rules, as currently written, prohibit wearable technology that provides feedback/data to the swimmer beyond the time of day. Most other sets of rules are silent on the issue.

    I believe the spirit of these rules is disallowing "technological lanelines" and pacing aids. The recently launched course-correcting goggles are another example.

    If you want to avoid any grey area, just leave your Garmin on the boat/kayak and let the support crew manage the tracking.

    timsrootDanSimonelli
  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    @ChrisB, I am a good example of what @evmo is talking about above. My swim last year in lake Issyk Kul, where you get at the most 2G, resulted in my son, as "social media" guy on my crew, having no job. I had great plans to have him update my progress on FB and on my blog, but he was rarely able to get a connection in the middle of the lake.

    This year we'll be using a Spot simply so family and friends can track me. And yes, you're right: the Spot goes on the boat (or kayak).

    When I've done other swims, I've put the Garmin (910) under my cap or in my dry bag, so that later I can upload the tracking data and analyze my swim. (You can see a swim I did on the island of Brac in Croatia in the MSF "GPS Track Database". As of a minute ago, it was the only swim in the database in Croatia, so it is easy to find.)

    DanSimonelli

    Please join the Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation on FB!

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin

    I recently wrote a blog post attempting to answer some common questions swimmers have about GPS technology:

    IronMikedavid_barraKarl_KingerythelittlemerwookieDanSimonelli
  • BridgetBridget New York StateMember

    Botheration! I'm low tech. I spring for a lap counter on my watch for pool swims. When doing laps at the beach, I use 6 hair elastics swiped from my daughter, and move one after each lap from one wrist to another, estimating 6 "moves" per half mile. ;-) When I swim Lake George this summer (32 miles) should I expect a rented boat to have GPS equipment on board, and is that sufficient? I really don't want a Garmin of any kind. Could someone with a cell phone do a few videos at regular intervals? Lake George isn't great for cell service, anyway.

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited April 2017

    Bridget said: Botheration! I'm low tech.
    ...
    When I swim Lake George this summer (32 miles) should I expect a rented boat to have GPS equipment on board, and is that sufficient? I really don't want a Garmin of any kind.

    This is the whole point of the article - your boat doesn't need to be equipped with expensive equipment. An iPhone or Android phone, even in airplane mode, is all you need to log tracking data for a swim.

    DanSimonelli
  • DanSimonelliDanSimonelli San Diego CASenior Member

    evmo said:

    This is the whole point of the article - your boat doesn't need to be equipped with expensive equipment. An iPhone or Android phone, even in airplane mode, is all you need to log tracking data for a swim.

    @evmo, It will still track in airplane mode?

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited April 2017

    DanSimonelli said: It will still track in airplane mode?

    A phone in airplane mode can log tracking data (for documentation purposes), but not transmit it (e.g., for live tracking). In current versions of iOS and Android, the GPS receiver is not disabled by airplane mode.

    IronMikeDanSimonelli
  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    Bridget said: Botheration! I'm low tech. I spring for a lap counter on my watch for pool swims. When doing laps at the beach, I use 6 hair elastics swiped from my daughter, and move one after each lap from one wrist to another, estimating 6 "moves" per half mile. ;-) When I swim Lake George this summer (32 miles) should I expect a rented boat to have GPS equipment on board, and is that sufficient? I really don't want a Garmin of any kind. Could someone with a cell phone do a few videos at regular intervals? Lake George isn't great for cell service, anyway.

    @Bridget, the track.rs service here at MSF is worth every penny.

    Speaking of Lake George, make sure you start a thread for your attempt. We'll all be here cheering for you!

    evmoDanSimonelli

    Please join the Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation on FB!

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