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October 19, 2023

Singapore Aquatics aims to improve access to swimming facilities with new initiative

SINGAPORE – To improve access to swimming facilities for local clubs and strengthen its development pipeline, Singapore Aquatics (SAQ) on Thursday unveiled Hwa Chong International School (HCIS) as its first partner in the Performance Development Centre (PDC) programme.

As part of the two-year memorandum of understanding, AquaTech Swimming Club will use the Hwa Chong pool, while paying rental for the venue and assisting the school with its internal aquatics programme and competitions.

SAQ secretary-general Kenneth Goh said: “We hope this collaboration will kick-start a new era of excellence for aquatics in Singapore.

“With the launch of the PDC, we are not only expanding the opportunities for aquatic clubs in both our development pipeline and the larger aquatic community, but also ensuring that our swimming pools, one of our most prized assets, are better utilised.”

Teong Tzen Wei, who clinched the 50m butterfly silver at the recent Hangzhou Asian Games, and his fellow AquaTech and national swimmers Ashley Lim, Zachary Tan, Zackery Tay and Glen Lim, conducted a clinic at HCIS on Thursday.

Teong said: “The PDC programme will give both clubs and athletes greater stability to plan for the longer term.

“For swimmers, things like having a fixed venue and access to a quality pool mean one less thing to worry about logistically and we can concentrate fully on the sporting side of things.”

The PDC’s implementation comes after a Portas Consulting survey the SAQ commissioned in 2020.

The study showed that while a handful of the 73 SAQ-affiliated clubs own facilities on long-term leases – at country clubs for example – 86 per cent of them typically operate out of multiple venues such as schools, with over 40 per cent using public facilities.

As such, they face challenges in terms of long-term secured access and cost of use.

It also found out that while Singapore has 113 Olympic-size pools, the majority have restricted access.

There is low utilisation of pools in schools and institutes of higher learning (IHLs), especially after school hours and during holidays, with four universities, three Institute of Technical Education colleges and five polytechnics out of 13 IHLs with pool facilities not used by an external club.

Goh said: “The PDC initiative will give aquatic clubs another option when… securing facilities for their programmes.

“Our intention is not to compete with clubs in tenders for venues. Rather, we are working with facility owners such as schools who may not have thought of renting out their pools, but do not mind doing so in partnership where the value proposition is multifaceted.”

The PDC will allow for extended facility bookings, increase involvement through partnerships with stakeholders, maintain a high quality of aquatic programmes, and reinforce coach development.

In total, about 40 of its affiliate clubs could potentially benefit from the PDC, the national association said.

HCIS principal Linda Lee said the partnership “is aligned with our goal of fostering a sporting culture in school and is certainly a testament to the synergy between education and sports”.

For AquaTech, the PDC is timely as its previous premises at the Toa Payoh Swimming Complex are making way for the Toa Payoh Integrated Development, to be completed by 2030.

Its head coach Marcus Cheah said: “It is a win-win situation for both sides, as we hope to elevate both AquaTech’s and Hwa Chong’s swimming offerings.”