Yan Kit Swimming Complex

Opened in 1952, Yan Kit Swimming Complex was the second public swimming facility in Singapore, after Mount Emily Swimming Complex at Upper Wilkie Road, which was opened in 1931 and closed some time after 1982.

Located at Yan Kit Road and opposite Tanjong Pagar Community Club, the swimming complex as well as the road were named after Chinese pioneer and dentist Look Yan Kit (1849-1931).

The complex, owned by Singapore Sports Council (SSC), was closed in 2001 after a spike in maintenance fees due to a dramatic decline in the attendance of swimmers.

The once-popular swimming complex has three pools in a row, namely the adult pool, the children pool and the diving pool. There are also a single-storey clubhouse and three small blocks for changing rooms and bathrooms.

When it was opened in the fifties, the entry price was 15c, and it got so popular that swimmers were given a time limit of two hours in the pools.

The lifeguard on duty watched over the swimmers at the tower between the children pool and the diving pool. There are three diving platforms at the end of the diving pool, where the water measured 3m deep.

In the past when the society was still relatively conservative, Yan Kit Swimming Complex was opened to only female swimmers on Tuesdays.

The building at the end of the adult pool has its wall painted with maritime designs, such as fishes, mermaid, sea turtle, octopus and seahorses.

After abandoned for a decade, there are some debates recently on whether the complex should be renovated and reopened to the public. Most residents living in Tanjong Pagar support the reopening of the complex in a conducted survey, but the high costs may put off some of the private developers.

Another old swimming pool that was demolished recently was River Valley Swimming Complex. It was built by the Singapore City Council at a cost of $520,000, and was completed in 1959. As River Valley developed into a commercial belt with offices and shopping malls, the swimming pool became under-utilised, resulting in its closure in April 2003. It was eventually torn down to make way for a carpark in 2011.

Elsewhere in Changi, there is also an abandoned sports complex. It was formerly owned by the Singapore International Airlines (SIA) and the complex was known as SIA Group Sports Club.

Located at a quiet Turnhouse Road, the sports complex was opened in 1982, and was SIA  Group Sports Club’s third location, having shifted from St Wilfred Road and Paya Lebar Airport in the seventies. Its unique dome shaped lobby even won a prize for architecture design.

In 2006, SIA Group Sports Club shifted to their fourth and latest location at Upper Changi Road East, opposite SIA Training Center. This 24-year-old sports complex was thus handed over to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), and with no plans in mind, it was left vacant for years.

Read about other old swimming complexes in Singapore at Swimming in the Summer Sun of Singapore.

Published: 30 April 2011

Updated: 11 January 2013

42 Responses to Yan Kit Swimming Complex

  1. Joanne says:

    Hi there..

    Can we actually go in there? Or is the place locked?
    I enjoy taking old school places photography..
    Just wondering if its possible. :)

    Hope to hear from you.
    Good day!

    • Hi Joanne, I’m afraid it’s locked and anyone who attempts to sneak in will have to risk trespassing…
      but you can take clear pictures of the swimming pool from the nearby flats

  2. Lloyd says:

    Trespassing aside, you can jump in from the adjacent carpark at level 3 at tanjong pager plaza and take all the photos you want, as for you escape, you can push the giant plastic bin up against a fence without barbed wires facing the community centre. I went in once with a couple of friends to take photos and its quite rewarding considering there’re very few places like this left in S’pore. Hope it helps!

  3. We used to visit this pool for our swimming sessions during my days at Gan Eng Seng School. Must say first time I used it, it reminded me of the 60s.

    I still find it funny. I grew up in Queenstown, but instead of learning how to swim at the Queenstown pool, I learnt swimming at Yan Kit!?

    LOL!

    • Gary Ng Dao Ming says:

      Hey!

      I grew up in Queenstown and studied at Queenstown Pri then at Gan Eng Seng School AND i remember the swimming lessons in Sec School was conducted at Yan Kit pool. Though that was in 1992, when i was in Sec1.

    • Terry says:

      me too, learnt to swim at Yan Kit. When studying in Gan Eng Seng School, i remember the ang mo swimming teacher was very on, that how we learn to swim fast and build up good stamina. He even force us to dive down from the higher platform. when you swim and reach the end of pool, he will run over and step your hand, made sure you don’t rest too long, that how i got my good stamina, i like those day….

      • KP Looi says:

        The swimming team used to train there.(1971). While the others would settle their score at the park just next to the Swimming pool. A few of us event joint the water polo team ! I was personally robbed twice there. It will be sad to see it go. So much memories.

    • Lee Chee Leong says:

      I too studied at Gan Eng Seng School and trained at Yan Kit Swimming Pool during my school days. I started with Gan Eng Seng School at Waterloo Street and continued when Gan Eng Seng School moved to Anson Road as a secondary school. I was in Anson Road till 1959 after which I went to work and then to University and stopped training in Yan Kit.

  4. Looked at this pic remind me The Big Slash At East Coast… Are u Able To Do Bis Splash Article..? Love Ur Pages…

  5. Linus says:

    oh man that SIA club brings back memories! both my parents worked for SIA so i got to go there fairly frequently..

    they used to have a diving board at the other end of the pool, opposite the toilets/changing rooms.. there was also a snooker/billiards room on the 2nd floor at the right side of that last photo. with a canteen below it.. oh yah my dad always hanged out at the slots machine while i went swimming.. lol

  6. black swan says:

    I used to train competitive swimming in the 1960′s at Yan Kit! The instructor’s daughter was our “marker” as she was the fastest swimmer there – I think the instructor’s name was Mr Loh, who might have been a lifeguard there as well. Trained with a wimp named Anthony, who kept saying he couldn’t swim anymore. Our warm-up was 32 laps, followed by 50 and 100m sprints. Loved the mee siam after training! :) Anyone else from that era train there?

    • Lee Chee Leong says:

      I too trained for competitive swimming at Yan Kit Swimming Pool. My training schedule was very much like yours. 4 laps of warm up, followed by 30 laps. Then sprints for 50 and 100m with others training there. I was studying at Gan Eng Seng School then and probably trained up to 1959 probably a little earlier than you. The life guard and coach there was Tay Keng Lin. Singapore’s first olympic swimmer (in Helsinki), Neo Chwee Kok was lifeguard there for a while till he moved to Singapore Swimming Club. Yan Kit was like my second home as I was there 5 to 6 times a week.

  7. Nairda says:

    Hi, any write up on the old saf nco club at beach road?

    • Hi Nairda, will try my best to do a research on that ;)
      It’s like fighting against time, I still haven’t visited the Changi Commando Barracks, old Serangoon Bus Interchange and Old School @Mount Sophia, which may be torn down soon

  8. anon says:

    I learnt to swim at Yan Kit.

  9. Heard that Yan Kit Swimming Complex is under demolition since last week..

  10. X.Y. says:

    Hello,

    how to get to the SIA group sports club? :)

  11. dhanan says:

    omg me and my friends tresspassed into sia sports club. got caught by aetos lo. i mean srsly its really amazing to see the older parts of singapore . but sadly they are demolishing it. thanks for making this website . contact me if you wana go adventuring,

  12. weenam says:

    it was falling apart 25 years ago when I was swimming there… but I love the place. I love the colours, the deep pools, even the uneven tiles. I mastered my swimming skills at Yan Kit and I wished my baby boy could have an opportunity to see this grand dame. Pity it is now dust and rubble…

  13. Hyperlinked your article as further info to a photo of this place I shot last year: (http://azrafael.deviantart.com/art/Forlorn-Pool-270912605)

  14. Jeff says:

    According to recent reports, Yan Kit Pool have been demolished due to structurally unsound buildings. It is sad to see another piece of Singapore’s history gone…

  15. Tony Eng says:

    My primary school was at Keppel School and every Friday in the afternoon as a member of the school swimming group would go to Yan Kit Swimming Pool where I earned my Bronze, Silver and Gold swimming certificate (tread water, swam different distances including having to swim with our pajamas in the 50M pool for 100M and then remove our pajamas while treading water etc.) It was free being on the school team or it would have been 10 cents. Mr. Teo was our swim teacher – his nickname was Teh-O (as in black tea). Also, there were street vendors selling drinks and snacks and one which I frequently go to, if I have 10 or 20 cents to spare was the “see-hum”/cockle hawker store – 10 cents for 7 cooked cockles and the delicious sweet chilli sauce. Yan Kit was where I first learned to swim with my brothers and my dad taught us how to swim in the children’s pool. I remembered that at the “deep” end of 3 feet, the water level would be up to my chin and I needed to tip toe in order that sudden splashes other kids would not end up with me swallowing water (which I knew had was been urinated by other kids – including mine, of course). I would then be telling be boasting to my playmates the next day that I swam in the middle pool (4 to 6 feet deep). Good old memories (circa 1960s).

  16. Yan Kit Swimming Complex in 1954, two days after its opening

  17. River Valley Swimming Complex (1959-2003), during its popular days

  18. Hokkien Sian says:

    I studied in Cantonment Primary School. Swam (or rather, played, fooled around) there a few times in the 1950s. There was an old lady outside the main gate renting out swimming costumes for 10 or 20cents.

  19. Jaswant Khaira says:

    I studied in Keppel School and enjoyed the pisang goreng and the night pasar malam that used to be outside the school

  20. In the seventies and eighties, there was a Yan Kit Village in the east of Singapore, near Upper Changi Road North. The remnant of this Chinese kampong is the Yan Kit Village Chinese Temple.
    Not sure if it’s also named after Look Yan Kit

  21. Edmund Lum says:

    i can still remember the center pool is 15ft deep, i was afraid to go into the pool.

  22. wish i had been to yan kit says:

    does anyone know when the coloured tiles were added (apparently they were not always coloured?) and why? and also does anyone know specifically which changing rooms were for the males and females? thanks!!! i’m studying the pool as part of a school project and would be grateful if someone could help out!

  23. Seng says:

    Dear Government,

    I propose the Government to redevelop the abandoned, old SIA Sports Club site at the green, peaceful and serene Turnhouse Road at Changi Village to be a suitable site for either a Reitrement Village for our greying citizens or for MINDEF/ MHA to jointly co-share a reservists’ clubhouse for NSmen in both SAF and HomeTeam to strengthen NS to be a cohesive and an all-inclusive society.

    This old SIA clubhouse was opened in 1982. Its unique dome shaped lobby even won a prize for architecture design back then. This 31-years-old sports complex was handed over to the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) in 2006, and with no plans in mind, it was left vacant for years under the State.

    The Government can enjoy great savings on construction and infrastructure expenses since the building is structurally safe and it just needs to be refurbished and redecorated.

    Yours faithfully,
    Citizen

  24. jo says:

    I don think its closed in 1982. Becos I was learning swmming every saturday when I was primary 5. And I am born in year 79.

  25. Joseph says:

    Hi, learned to swim at Yan Kit too way back in the late 50s. There was a public park across the road from the pool and a Chinese martial art association used the park for practices. Getting to the pool was a hazardous experience. You just didn’t know if you would be robbed.

  26. pineswood says:

    I love the food that were selling just outside the Yan Kit Swimming Pool entrance such as cockles, kangkong + cuttlefish, deep fried shark fish “nuggets” etc which all had shifted to Tanjong Pager Hawker Centre. And Yes, the Mee Siam sold inside the Yan Kit pool was very good. Luckily for us, the Chinese temple is still there.

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