Chinese Swimming Club turns 108: Did you know its first pool was filled with seawater?

Swimmers in the 100m freestyle heats at the inaugural Chinese Swimming Club (CSC) Super Junior Swimming Invitational on Sept 4, 2016.
Swimmers in the 100m freestyle heats at the inaugural Chinese Swimming Club (CSC) Super Junior Swimming Invitational on Sept 4, 2016. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - The Chinese Swimming Club is celebrating 108 years of history with a Heritage Festival this weekend. The recreation club, which has 8,800 members, is one of Singapore's premier sports clubs and has produced its fair share of national swimmers. 

Here are five things to know about the club.

1. It was started by nine Peranakans

The Chinese Swimming Club was started in 1905 by nine Peranakan swimming enthusiasts, who initially called themselves the Tanjong Katong Swimming Party. They would meet every Sunday to swim and play water polo in the sea off Marine Parade.

2. Activities were held in the open sea

Even after membership grew and they adopted the name Chinese Swimming Club in 1910, swimming and water polo still took place in the open sea during high tide. It was only in 1911, when the club had 100 members, that they first met in a clubhouse. It was a rented building in Chapel Road.

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3. The first pool was filled with seawater

In 1939, the club built its first 25m swimming pool, which was filled with natural seawater at high tide. Because of its new facilities, membership soared as the club became more popular, especially among English-speaking middle-class residents of Katong.

4. It was previously occupied by the Japanese

The club was occupied by the Japanese during World War II and was even used at one point as a place where the Japanese firing squad gunned down Chinese prisoners. The Japanese also used the club for recreation and interrogation purposes. They eventually left the club buildings vandalised, and the club had to introduce $100 lifelong membership in 1947 for business to recover.

5. Patricia Chan was from the club

 Singapore's first Golden Girl of sports, Patricia Chan, was a swimmer trained at the club. She represented the country at the 1972 Olympics, and was a swimming icon throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. She received 39 gold medals at five South-east Asian Games.