Thursday, October 16, 2008

the fate of public swimming pools

not many of the older public swimming pools are still in use. mt emily, river valley and yan kit have gone the way of the dodos. jurong swimming complex which chun see remembers from his dating days is also no more. the jurong pool was closed together with paya lebar, pandan garden, boon lay and bukit merah.

one of them which was supposed to have been demolished, together with the sports stadium, has a new lease of life. it is still known as the farrer park swimming complex but it has been turned into an exclusive members' only pool managed by the aps (ang peng siong) swim school.

some modifications have been made at the entrance of the swimming complex, otherwise most of the features from the past remain. the broken, jagged glasses on the top of the concrete fence around the complex are still there. the canteen, where we satisfied our ravenous appetite after playing in the water for hours, is still there.

i remember as kids how excited we were when we visited the farrer park swimming pool for a splash. it was the public swimming pool nearest to where we lived. we could take a bus but most of the time, we walked the 2km to the swimming complex. the pool had two opening hours: one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. the afternoon slot was more popular because that was when the weather would be warmer.

imagine we had to queue up to get into the swimming complex. and the line could sometimes stretch right up to the junction of rutland road and dorset road, more than 50m. we just could not wait to get into the water; we would start stripping even before we got to the changing room. yes, we wore our swimming trunks, instead of our underwear, beneath our clothes. while we were supposed to take a shower , we would often hastily go under the tap once and headed straight for the pool.

it did not matter that most of us could not swim. we never had the chance or means to go for any formal swimming lessons. most of us were self-taught. we picked up the skill as we struggled along, by observing how those who could swim do it.

those days, there were not so many restrictions. you could take your beach ball, the tube-float and any floatation device into the pool. however, the pools were so crowded that, if you were a serious swimmer, you could hardly swim a breadth without knocking into somebody or having sombody swim into your path.

the newer swimming pools, like the one at choa chu kang and jurong east, are designed to be more than a place to swim or to learn to swim. it has also included the element of fun and thrills.


Icemoon said...

A question bothering me for long - why is Yan Kit Village not at Yan Kit Road?

yg said...

i have learnt something from you. i didn't know there was a yan kit village until you mentioned it. i can't find it in my 1998 street directory but found it in the 1969 directory. it was located near track 39 upper changi road.
there is another example. maju secondary school was neither near maju ave (in serangoon garden) nor near maju drive (in clementi).

Lam Chun See said...

When we were growing up, this was the favourite swimming pool for my brothers and me. We called this area Ang Kio Tau becos of the red colour bridge at junction of Kamapong Java Rd and Thomson Rd.

yg said...

chun see, i wonder if you are cantonese or hokkien. you seem to know all the hokkien names for many places in s'pore.
sometimes, we went to swim at mt emily, which was not so crowded but that pool had a certain day reserved for ladies.

Icemoon said...

According to his blog article, his was the only cantonese family in a hokkien kampong. Perhaps that's why.

Lam Chun See said...

That's right. And my kampong was called Chui Arm Lor (Water Pipes Road) aka Kau Tio Kio (9 Bridges)