For the third year in a row, world-class swimmers will compete in the Turning the Tides on Multiple Sclerosis race to raise money to fight the disease. But this year, the swimmers can be tracked during the race through wireless connections to support boats.
The 38-mile course for Saturday's event leads from Catalina Island off the Southern California coast to Santa Monica. Six teams of six swimmers each are expected to take about 20 hours to finish the race. Teams from England, Canada, the United States, Brazil, Portugal, and Germany will participate. One member of each team has the disease.
With such a far-flung audience interested in the race, organizers turned to event sponsor Cingular Wireless LLC and others to provide a wireless connection to chase boats following the swimmers. Main Course Technologies Inc. has provided GPS transmitters that will be carried in kayaks that stay near each swimmer, and Eyematic Interfaces Inc. is offering its new iVisit software to provide video chats with resting swimmers.
"The challenge is to give a compelling interaction to our fans and constituents, the people that want to support the cause, given the challenging issues of the bandwidth that we have and being out over water," says Manel Sweetmore, board member and acting chief technology officer of Turning the Tides on MS - MS Swim 2001. "We basically had to look for a provider with consistent coverage over the waterway between here and Catalina."
Coverage of the event will be available at www.msswim.com.