Singapore swimming through the decades

1960s and 1970s: THE GOLDEN ERA

A period of dominance for Singapore swimming, with 69 golds won at the South-east Asian Peninsular Games.

Patricia Chan, Tan Thuan Heng, and then Junie Sng led the way, backed by legendary coaches Chan Ah Kow and Kee Soon Bee. Sng’s two golds at the 1978 Asian Games were also Singapore swimming’s first golds at the Asiad since Neo Chwee Kok’s four-gold haul at the 1951 edition


Sng continued her dominance with 17 of Singapore’s 45 golds at the SEA Games.

But it was also during this decade where male swimmers Ang Peng Siong, David Lim, Oon Jin Teik and Oon Jin Gee rose to the fore, bringing success at both the Asian and SEA Games.

Ang famously clocked a world-best 22.69sec in the 50m freestyle in 1982. He also won an Asian Games gold in the 100m freestyle that year.


An era defined by the aquatic brilliance of Joscelin Yeo. From 1993 to 1999, she won or had a hand in 25 of Singapore swimming’s 29 golds at the SEA Games.

But gold eluded the Republic at the Asian Games, with only one silver and two bronzes in three Asiads.


The early 2000s was marked by boardroom controversy, with calls for the management, some of whom having served for more than two decades, to step down.

But in the pool, Singapore’s swimmers continued to deliver, with 82 golds from seven SEA Games. In this time, Tao Li won two Asian Games golds, and finished fifth in the 100m butterfly final at the 2008 Olympics.

Last year, Joseph Schooling won Singapore’s first Commonwealth Games swimming medal with a silver in the 100m fly, behind world champion Chad le Clos. He went on to win one gold, one silver and one bronze at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.