I was in Singapore last week, and during that short trip I found the opportunity to visit the OCBC Aquatic Centre!
Singapore has an abundance of public pools, and every child learns how to swim from an early age. However, the OCBC Aquatic Centre is part of that massive complex known as the Singapore Sports Hub which is comprised of the aquatic center, the National Stadium, an indoor stadium, the Water Sports Centre, a water park, an arena with a gym, a library, a sports museum, and a mall. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to see and experience as a visiting triathlete, especially when I ended up there in September last year while paying a visit to the H&M branch in Kallang Wave Mall.
Due to lack of time I only got to see the training pool as well as get something to eat from the mall food court. It was still a delightful and envy-inducing way to see Singapore sport culture as encouraged by their national government.
Thanks to JC Roldan, a Filipino based in Singapore, who offered to come with me to the aquatic centre on his day off. I hate being that ignorant tourist who doesn’t know what goes where, so I was relieved to have his local guidance there.
I also did my research on the use fees charged. For S$2.60 during non-peak hours (cheaper if you’re a citizen or permanent resident with ID), it was a steal! Most facilities in Metro Manila can charge more than P100, and none look like this:
I didn’t take photos because it feels a little bit like a library in there: you go in, get your swim done, and get out. Out of respect to everyone else just minding their business swimming, I didn’t feel it was proper to snap away. The lifeguard kindly offered to take our photo when he saw me whip my phone out for a selfie, but when I asked him if it was allowed, he said they do it on a per-case basis but strictly speaking is not allowed.
Anyway, I hope my words will suffice as a guide if you do find yourself at the OCBC Aquatic Centre for a swim!
How to Swim at the OCBC Aquatic Centre
- First, you need to buy your entry ticket at the booth. Check the rates here, as the weekends cost a bit more.
- Unlock the turnstiles by scanning your ticket. Pocket your ticket (no littering!) and head toward the training pool, or if you’re lucky the competition pool may be open.
- There are separate locker rooms for men and women, through which you can then enter the pool area. The lockers are free for use and you can set your own combination for them. Take a locker, because flipflops and bags are not allowed poolside. The locker rooms have toilet and shower facilities, but you need to bring your own towels and toiletries.
- The training pool is 50 meters long and 8 lanes wide. Depth is 1.35 to 2 meters deep at the far end. The competition pool is 50 meters long and 10 lanes wide, with a uniform depth of 3 meters (just like T***’s!).
- At the pool they have speed markers on each lane as a guide. The center lanes are the fastest, while the leftmost and rightmost lanes are for fitness swimmers. They’re not super strict about this, but out of courtesy try to swim in a lane that’s your speed. If there are three or more of you in a lane, follow circle swimming by keeping right.
- You can bring your swim “toys” poolside, but leave your bottles on the benches against the wall. Flipflops are also not allowed to keep the pool area clean.
- Swim! It’s an indoor pool so the water can be quite cold. No need for tinted goggles here, either!
- After you’ve finished your swim, you can rinse off at the poolside showers, or head back into the locker room for a full shower and change.
If your swim has worked up an appetite, there’s an awesome food court called Foodfare at the Kallang Wave Mall, with plenty of options. I ate chicken rice before the swim, and had kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs after. It’s called balance? Just kidding.
No kidding, their prices are consistently lower island-wide, with discounts for union member cardholders.
This food court also has kid-friendly meals and play facilities, in tandem with the activities the Singapore Sports Hub offers children such as swim classes and a water park. Compare that to the usual athletic/gym facilities that exclude children. It’s a great way of ingraining love of sports while they’re young.
Singapore’s government as well as its private businesses recognize the importance of keeping its populace and workforce healthy through sports. I dream of the day when the Philippines can offer the same kind of facilities to its citizens.