[BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY] Great Lengths: Singapore’s Swimming Pools

I am giving away 3 copies of ‘Great Lengths’!
Scroll down to the end of this post for more details 😚

We might have clinched several gold medals on the international stage for badminton and table tennis. But in all honesty, no other sport unites Singapore and evokes the pride in us like swimming does (even a relatively non-sporty person like myself gets a rush of adrenaline watching our national swimmers competing at the Games!). According to this list of Singapore’s sporting achievements, swimming has apparently brought back the most medals to date, including the elusive gold from the 2016 Summer Olympics. That said, the true reason for our enthusiasm towards the sport lies beyond these materialistic pleasures.

With tropical waters surrounding us and at least one swimming complex in almost every neighbourhood, water sports come as naturally to us as breathing, so it is not surprising for Singaporeans to have a deep affinity for all things water. The abundance of pools here means every Singaporean gets to swim recreationally, whether it be taking a dip or dive. Although unable to swim, countless family outings to swimming pools – or more specifically Jurong East Swimming Complex, which opened in March 2000 – in my primary school days inevitably forms a significant part of my childhood memory. Given our strong sense of attachment to our pools, Singaporean editors Jocelyn Lau and Lucien Low found it peculiar that there wasn’t any book about them and had therefore embarked on a year-long project to document our swimming pools – past and present. Their research resulted to the publication of 50 Metres in 2015. However, because it was more of a purpose-driven project (to commemorate SG50), 50 Metres wasn’t sold commercially and had limited circulation. Still, those who had seen the full-colour illustrated book had nothing but praises for it.

Upon seeing its potential, the editors decided to update the book with photographs and interviews with some of our renowned aquatic athletes. Award-winning heritage blogger Jerome Lim as well as former competitive swimmer Ang Peng Siong were also given a voice in the book to provide further insight into Singapore’s swimming pools. All these efforts contributed to the second edition of 50 Metres, retitled Great Lengths.

Book: Great Lengths, Singapore's Swimming Pools

Book: Great Lengths, Singapore’s Swimming Pools

Book: Great Lengths, Singapore's Swimming Pools

Book: Great Lengths, Singapore’s Swimming Pools

Book: Great Lengths, Singapore's Swimming Pools

Book: Great Lengths, Singapore’s Swimming Pools

Book: Great Lengths, Singapore's Swimming Pools

Book: Great Lengths, Singapore’s Swimming Pools

To the uninformed, our pools may just be another place for recreation. In actual fact, they have a weight of history behind them and hold a special place in the heart of many Singaporeans. Great Lengths uncovers just how much was unknown about the swimming pools here.

Swimming For All (p. 46)

Swimming For All (p. 46)

Besides providing opportunities for local budding swimmers to hone their skills, the great accessibility to pools had also set the scene for some of their most remarkable achievements. For instance, two-time Olympian (1984 and 1988) and Asian Games gold medalist (1982) Ang Peng Siong was once hailed as the World’s Fastest Swimmer in the 50-metre freestyle event with a timing of 22.69s in 1982. This probably wouldn’t have been possible without his father’s foresight and rigorous swimming practices at the now-privatised Farrer Park Swimming Complex. This book also features other outstanding swimmers who have represented Singapore at major sporting meets and bagged awards. You can expect read about Amanda Lim (who just won the 50-metre freestyle for the fifth consecutive year at the recent SEA Games), Theresa Goh (who was recently inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame) and Yip Pin Xiu among many others.

Pasir Ris Swimming Complex (p. 156)

Pasir Ris Swimming Complex (p. 156)

More recently, Joseph Schooling brought glory to Singapore with his stellar performance at the Rio games. Not only had he put this little red dot on the map with a new Olympic record of 50.39s for the 100m butterfly (and defeating the swimming legend Michael Phelps while at it), public interest in swimming grew dramatically and hit all-time high since the first community pools opened to the local sports-deprived residents in the early to mid-nineties. Looking for a place to swim? Great Lengths doubles as a complete directory (with address, and entry fees on p. 188-189) for all public pools to save you the hassle of Googling.

Contents page where you can find the names of all public pools + free bookmarks!

However, all good things must come to an end. As newer and better-equipped swimming complexes sprout up at every corner in Singapore, many once-popular neighbourhood pools with the most basic amenities are now a shadow of their former selves. While some survive as private entities, few such as the Buona Vista and Paya Lebar swimming complexes weren’t that lucky and had to be closed for future development. In this thoroughly-documented book, you get to learn more about the forgotten “pioneer” pools through old photographs and interviews with people who once swam in their blue glistening waters. It is fascinating to note that the first public swimming pool in Singapore (Mount Emily Swimming Complex) was actually converted from a service reservoir!

One of the 'pioneers' - Geylang East Swimming Complex. Opened in 1978 and is STILL in operation today! (p. 89)

One of the ‘pioneers’ – Geylang East Swimming Complex. Opened in 1978 and is STILL in operation today! (p. 89)

I would divulge more from the book but I don’t wish to spoil the suspense. You’d be surprise to find a wealth of information about the swimming pools in Singapore despite our size! If you’re keen to know more, be sure to grab a copy of Great Lengths (see below for price and availability) or… take part in my giveaway!

That’s right – I am giving away a copy of Great Lengths to THREE lucky readers 😙


To participate in this giveaway, all you need to do is complete the following easy steps:

  1. Like me (@fionaseahcom) and Great Lengths (@50metres) on Facebook (we will be checking!)
  2. Comment and tag 2 friends who may also want to win a copy of Great Lengths on this Facebook update



…if you share this review or the Facebook update on your Facebook page. Remember to change the privacy mode to public for verification purposes. Do also indicate that you have shared it in the comments so that I can look out for it!

THREE lucky winners will each walk away with a copy of Great Lengths worth S$28+, courtesy of Kucinta Books! 😉 Contest ends 15 September 2017.


This giveaway is open to everyone currently residing in Singapore only. To enter the giveaway, participants must like @fionaseahcom and @50metres on Facebook, comment and tag two (2) friends on this particular Facebook post. Only entries on Facebook will be considered for this giveaway. Entries submitted after 15 September 2017, 2359 h will be disqualified.


Winners will be electronically selected and will be notified via e-mail within 3 days of the closing date. All giveaway results are final and prizes are also non-transferable. Winners will be announced on the aforementioned Instagram post as well as on this feature post. Prizes will be delivered by post only and no meetups will be entertained. In the event of unclaimed or unsuccessful prize claims, another draw will be held to determine the next winner.


FIONASEAH.COM reserves the right to edit, amend the giveaway Terms and Conditions (T&C #1 and #2) as it deems fit.

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Thanks for reading and may good luck be with you 😇


With a Foreword by Sport Singapore
Introductions by Ang Peng Siong & Jerome Lim

Illustrations by Favian Ee 
Published by Kucinta Books 
Edited by Jocelyn Lau & Lucien Low 
Supported by National Heritage Board

Featured on CHANNEL NEWSASIA “On the Red Dot”, 25 December 2016

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Price: S$28 (excluding GST)
Availability: Kinokuniya, Select Books, NaiiseKucinta Books website.
For loan at: National Library Board branches and at the Sports Hub Library

A sample chapter is available for viewing here.

For more information about the book, please visit Kucinta Books’ website or Great Lengths Facebook page.

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