Open water swimming has been a booming sport in the UK in recent years, with overall outdoor swimming participation increasing an astounding 94% between 2019 and 2020. With this rapid growth came heightened risks - oceans, lakes, and rivers posed unpredictable conditions and monitoring swimmers was proving increasingly difficult. Previous solutions like manual check-ins, charts, and timers were analog, inaccurate, and disjointed. As events scaled in size and scope, industry leaders like British Triathlon recognized an effective solution was imperative to mitigate risks for all parties involved.
UK-based Sports Guardian was approached by British Triathlon to develop an integrated safety system for open water swimming events. The result was QR code-enabled wristbands powered by a mobile app. The wristband stores emergency medical and contact details for swimmers, while the app allows easy profile management for athletes and enables organizers to monitor the event in real-time and quickly activate emergency response protocols if required.
The automated check-in and wristband scan system provides organizers with real-time visibility into exactly who is participating and when. When an emergency scan occurs, an automated alert containing key information is sent instantly to designated responders. The system integrates with existing medical protocols to quickly escalate situational awareness and speed coordination.
Athletes input important personal, medical, and emergency contact information into the app. This includes details like medical history, medications, allergies, and ICE (emergency contact) phone numbers. They can update and add information at any time, keeping it current. If an emergency scan of their wristband QR code occurs, this vital data is immediately displayed to responders, facilitating faster and more informed care.
After secure login, organizers access real-time admin dashboards and QR scanning capability on their mobile devices. For check-in, organizers simply scan swimmers’ wristbands at designated areas, providing an accurate participant list. In emergencies, organizers can rapidly activate response systems by scanning the QR code again, minimizing life-threatening delays.
The wristband QR codes utilize encrypted data and are programmed to be scannable only when an athlete is checked into a partner venue, preventing unauthorized access. Athletes can also unlock their code for solo activities then lock it again. Only organizers can scan the codes for medical details - general scans will trigger an alert. If a wristband is lost or stolen, its QR code can be disabled via the app. This layered approach keeps personal data secure while enabling emergency access when needed.
After a successful 2021 pilot with Lenches Lakes, Sports Guardian is now the recommended safety system for Beyond Swim, an open water swimming community with over 20 accredited venues across the UK. The wristbands and app are now available to athletes, swim clubs, venues, and organizers in the open water swimming community.