Rottnest Channel Swim Real Time Swimmer Tracking on and MapSwim app

We have been working again this year on a system to allow real-time GPS tracking of swimmers taking part in the Rottnest Channel Swim. The tracking will appear on the web site which will track your race number and position on a map of the waters between Cottesloe and Rottnest with real-time updates.

This map will allow your family and friends who don't get a birth on your support boat to get a better idea of how you're traveling.  Your support crew can also use the map to see how other swimmers and teams are getting on during the swim.

If you look at the map before the swim you should see test swimmer icons between Cottesloe and Rottnest. You should also see a growing number of swimmer markers on the land around Perth, and further afield, which will be sent to the web site as people test the system with actual devices.   The test swimmers will be removed from the map before the event.

Some of the swimmers have a special purpose satellite tracking device called a SPOT tracker which will transmit their position via satellite to the web page.

But we have also come up with a way that anyone with a GPS enabled iPhone or iPad can send their position to the web page. So if you or one of your support team members has a GPS enabled iPhone or iPad, you can perform a simple setup process to have your swim tracked on the web page.

Instructions for both types of phone are included below. It is pretty simple to perform the setup, and should take no more than 5 minutes to do. Feel free to forward these the link to these instructions to other swimmers that you know so that we can get more people involved.

Please note although we have put lots of effort into making the system as bomb proof as possible, it is all brand new and so we can't make any guarantees that it will work seamlessly on the day. And as we will be in the water swimming, we won't be able to fix the system during the swim!

Instructions for setting up an iPhone or iPad for Tracking with the MapSwim app

To set up your iPhone for tracking you need to install a custom tracking app called MapSwim.  This app is free, and uses the iPhone's GPS to obtain your current location.  The app can be configured to send your location to the web page, where it can be displayed on the map.   The MapSwim app also works well on an iPad with a data SIM.

To do this follow these simple steps:

  1. Download  the MapSwim App from the iPhone App Store MapSwim app

    MapSwim app

  1. Run the MapSwim app. You will see the dashboard page, which has some useful information for your crew including how far you are from the start and finish of the swim.  If you are sharing your location (instructions below) the time you last shared your location will be shown at the bottom left of this page.

  1. The Map page shows a map of the area between Cottesloe and Rottnest with swimmer icons, color coded for the different categories.    You can see where the other swimmers are, and if you are sharing your location, you can check that your location is reaching the map.  Normally the map should automatically refresh, but if it doesn't you can press the Refresh button to fetch the latest swimmer positions.  To move the map to your current location, and track your movements, you can press the arrow icon at the top left.

  1. The options page is where you can configure your swimmer details, and switch ON and OFF sharing your location.
  1. If you are a swimmer (or swimmers crew) and want to share your location, configure the settings as follows:
    1. Enter your swimmer (or team) number. Do not enter anything else here or it will not work. Just your number (e.g. 0045, or 0126, or 0056 etc).  Note if you don't have a swimmer number but desperately want to test the system, then please use one of the test swimmer numbers in the range 0400 to 0450.  These test swimmers will be removed from the system before the swim.
    2. Choose your swimmer or team type.
    3. Enter your team name or your name if you are a Solo
    4. Choose a sharing frequency (1 minute is a good default)
    5. Switch Sharing ON to start sharing your location
  1. The MapSwim app should now send your location to the MapSwim web site, whenever the Sharing is switched to ON and the phone has a phone signal. 

You should check that you can see a swimmer icon with your number on it at your current location on the map page.   You should also check that the icon appears on the web page.

  1. After testing that the tracking works, you can switch sharing to OFF, and then instruct your crew on how it works.  On the day of your swim, your crew can switch sharing ON at the beginning of the swim, and switch it OFF at the end.  They should also monitor whether it is working either by checking the map page in the app or checking with someone at home who can see the web page.
Note that you can answer incoming calls, and the app will keep transmitting. You can also run other apps and the app will keep transmitting.

Also note that you do not need to leave the screen running, you can press the button on the top of your iPhone to save battery life and the app will continue to send location updates.

The MapSwim app is optimized to minimize the use of power, but it still uses more power than if you don't have the app running.  

In testing with a full battery charge the phone has lasted for up to 12 hours.  However, if possible you should use a source of extra power, like an iPhone battery extender, or if your boat has a 12V power source, a car charger to top up the power during the swim.

Also remember to switch sharing OFF at the end of the swim so that the app will stop sending your location to the web page and stop using your phone's battery.

Your Privacy

If you are concerned about any privacy issues and don't want the swimmer icon to appear over your house on the mapswim map, then do the testing in a public place like the pool, the beach, in town, and then switch off the program after you are happy with the testing. 

The map will only show the last location that the device was switched on for. 

For more details see our privacy policy

We are Happy to Help

Drop us a line at and we will be happy to answer any questions or help with any issue you have with the web site or the MapSwim app.