Esmond Lee

Are Goggles Essential When Swimming?

When we think about the things that are needed for a swim, one of the things that come to our minds would be the goggles. To some people, forgetting to bring their goggles is as good as forgetting to bring their swimwear. However, are goggles truly that important?

For Survival’s Sake
Do we need our goggles to be able to swim? The answer is no.
Swimming is a sport that allows one to keep fit while keeping the damage to your joints to a minimum. However, it is also a skill that can potentially keep you alive, especially since Singapore is surrounded by water. From time to time, you may notice swimming instructors getting his/her learners to open their eyes underwater without the protection of goggles. This is meant to help learners understand that goggles are merely a tool to make swimming more comfortable for them and that it is by no means a necessity.

If you think that this is unnecessary, think again. You will be astonished as to how often I have seen swimmers transform into non-swimmers the moment their goggles are taken away from them. Learning to swim, with or without goggles, is critical; for survival’s sake.

Eye Protection
That said, if we take into account that most pools are chlorinated, it is indeed wise for a swimmer to wear goggles for protection. By choosing not to wear your goggles, your eyes will likely get irritated by the chlorine, resulting in redness and some discomfort.

This is especially true for people who enjoy swimming with contact lenses. In any case, you should avoid wearing contact lenses while swimming, find out why from our earlier post.

A swimmer is truly water-safe only when they are armed with the knowledge that they can swim without their goggles on. Once that is achieved, we will have to take steps to preserve our gift of sight.

The Swimmer’s Guide to Hair Protection

Does your hair feel dry after your swim, even after washing it under the tap? This is due to the chlorine in the swimming pool which removes the sebum from your hair. Sebum is essential for beautiful, glossy hair as it protects your hair from damage. Without the protection by sebum, your hair gradually loses its natural sheen and could potentially develop split ends. Here are some things that you can do to protect your hair and still enjoy your swim.

  1. Use a Swim Cap
    The idea is to avoid getting water in contact with your hair. Therefore, use a silicon swim cap instead of the cloth ones. Yes, silicon swim caps can be a tad warmer but if you keep your head underwater, it should help with the heat.
  2. Rinse it out!
    Head to the showers right after you exit the pool and rinse away the chemicals.
  3. Anti-Chlorine Shampoo
    After giving your hair a good rinse, give it a good wash with anti-chlorine shampoo. This will help in reducing the amount of the damage done by the chlorinated water.
  4. Use Conditioner
    After you have removed the chemicals from your hair, it would be wise to apply conditioner to counter the effects of chlorine.

Do you have other tips on hair care to share with us? Leave a comment below and spread the love 🙂

Swimming With Contact Lenses – Is It Safe?

It’s warm and humid outside and nothing feels better than going for a swim to escape the heat. But you have poor eyesight and it irks you that you cannot wear your spectacles into the water. Aha! You’ve decided to put on your contact lenses to go for your swim. Just a little while won’t hurt, you say to yourself. But is that true? Let us explore this subject together.

The Risks

Assuming you are going for a swim and you put on a fresh pair of contact lenses, just for the occasion. You dive into the pool and the contact lenses get washed out of your eyes, never to be seen again. Yes, the risk of losing your contact lenses is real and it is something you can consider before you put them on the next time you go swimming.

It is a little known fact that fresh water can result in the soft lenses tightening on your eyes. Needless to say, having a piece of plastic squeezing your eyeball is not a comfortable experience.

Contact lenses serve as a medium that can retain chemicals and microorganisms, such as Acanthamoeba, which are usually washed away from your eyes if you are not wearing contact lenses. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals and microorganisms can potentially result in eye irritation, infection and even permanent impairment of your eyesight.

Preventive Measures

The safest measure to take is to avoid wearing contact lenses for your swims. Instead, purchase a pair of optical goggles which serve a dual purpose of being a pair of spectacles, as well as, goggles.

A slightly more risky approach would be to wear a pair of goggles when you are wearing contact lenses for your swim. However, there is a risk that some water might leak into your goggles and contaminate your contact lenses.  Hence, be sure to check that your goggles are of the right fit.

If you do experience any discomfort in your eyes, be sure to visit your eye doctor for a proper diagnosis. Sharing is caring, so do share this information with your bespectacled friends 🙂


shallow water blackout

Sudden Death: Shallow Water Blackout

Shallow Water Blackout (SWB) can occur without warning and even the best swimmers are not spared should it be allowed to strike. Unlike what the name suggests, SWB does not only occur in shallow waters. In fact, it can happen in any body of water and it is difficult for the lifeguards to detect a victim of SWB due to its swift and sudden nature. The only way to prevent SWB from happening is to increase awareness of this little known killer.

SWB explained
SWB is due to hypoxia, which means low oxygen (O2) levels, to the brain. When one is breathing normally, the need to breathe is triggered by an increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. The point at which breathing is triggered is indicated by the dotted line in the figures below. As seen in Figure 1 below, after breathing is triggered, the breathing action that takes place increases the O2 levels and lowers the CO2 levels.

shallow water blackout - hyperventilation

Figure 1: O2 and CO2 levels during normal breathing (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In contrast, when a swimmer hyperventilates, his/her CO2 levels are at a reduced level. As seen in Figure 2, the O2 levels will enter the blackout zone before the need to breathe is triggered. After the swimmer blacks out and the CO2 levels continue to rise, his/her body will naturally take in a breath. The unconscious swimmer will then take in a lungful of water and drown.

shallow water blackout - normal breathing

Figure 2: O2 and CO2 levels when hyperventilating (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Prevention of SWB

Firstly, SWB can be prevented by educating swimmers of the dangers of breath holding. While hypoxic training is practiced worldwide, swimmers should be discouraged from performing such training on their own. Recreational swimmers should also avoid engaging in breath holding for fun.

Next, in the event that breath holding exercises are necessary during training, they should be performed under close supervision of a swimming coach. The swimming coach should then take necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the swimmers under his/her guidance.

Lastly, lifeguards on duty do have the responsibility to perform patrols periodically. This is to ensure that all blind spots are covered in the event of a swimmer in trouble being submerged in such areas.

Hopefully, by raising awareness of this silent killer, unnecessary loss of lives can be prevented.

Singapore Swimming Proficiency Award

Groom the Next Joseph Schooling: Singapore Swimming Proficiency Award

Are you hoping to groom your child to be the next Joseph Schooling to represent Singapore? In that case, you will want to consider sending your child for the Singapore Swimming Proficiency Award (SSPA) which was launched in 2013. The SSPA tests the swimmers on their ability to swim the 4 recognised swimming strokes; freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly.

As part of the training to become the next Joseph Schooling, the swimmer will learn to apply the following FINA rules for competitive swimming in their own swimming. We’ve compiled a list of some of rules below.

  1. SW5 – Freestyle
    • The swimmer can choose to swim any style
    • Some part of the swimmer must touch the wall upon completion of each length and at the finish
    • Some part of the swimmer must break the surface of the water throughout the race
    • The swimmer is allowed to be completely submerged during the turn and for a distance of not more than 15 metres after the start and each turn
    • No walking
    • No pulling of lane rope
  1. SW6 – Backstroke
    • The swimmer is to start with both hands holding the starting grips, in the water and facing the starting end
    • The swimmer shall push off and swim on his back throughout the race except when executing a turn
    • Some part of the swimmer must break the surface of the water throughout the race
    • The swimmer is allowed to be completely submerged during the turn and for a distance of not more than 15 metres after the start and each turn
    • When executing a turn, some part of the swimmer’s body must touch the wall
    • During the turn, the shoulders may be turned over the vertical to the breast and perform a single or simultaneous double arm pull to initiate the turn
    • The swimmer must have returned to the position on the back upon leaving the wall
    • The swimmer must finish the swim by touching the wall while on his/her back
  1. SW7 – Breaststroke
    • After the start and after each turn, the swimmer may take one arm stroke completely back to the legs during which the swimmer may be submerged
    • A single butterfly kick is permitted during the first arm stroke, followed by a breaststroke kick.
    • From the beginning of the first arm stroke after the start and after each turn, the body shall be on the breast
    • The swimmer must maintain a stroke cycle of one arm stroke and one kick
    • Arm movements are to be done simultaneously with no alternate movement
    • Recovery of the arm stroke should not be done above the water surface
    • The elbows shall be under water except for the final stroke before the turn, during the turn and for the final stroke at the finish
    • Leg movements are to be done simultaneously with no alternate movement
    • During each complete cycle, some part of the swimmer’s head must break the surface of the water
    • At each turn and at the finish of the race, the touch shall be made with both hands simultaneously at, above, or below the water level
  1. SW8 – Butterfly
    • From the beginning of the first arm stroke after the start and each turn, the body shall be kept on the breast
    • Under water kicking on the side is allowed
    • Both arms shall be brought forward together over the water and brought backward simultaneously throughout the race
    • All up and down movements of the legs must be simultaneous
    • At each turn and at the finish of the race, the touch shall be made with both hands simultaneously, at, above or below the water surface
    • At the start and at turns, a swimmer is permitted one or more leg kicks and one arm pull under the water, which must bring him to the surface
    • It shall be permissible for a swimmer to be completely submerged for a distance of not more than 15 metres after the start and after each turn
    • The swimmer must remain on the surface until the next turn or finish
  1. SW9 – Medley
    • In individual medley events, the swimmer covers the four swimming strokes in the following order: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke and Freestyle
    • Each of the strokes must cover one quarter (1/4) of the distance.
    • For the freestyle, any style other than backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly can be used
    • The rules for each stroke are applicable in the medley event

In order for swimmers to attempt the SSPA tests, they must meet the minimum criteria of SwimSafer Stage 1. Badges are awarded to swimmers who achieve the stipulated timings of each event. Upon completion of levels 1, 2 or 3, swimmers will be given the option to purchase a rainbow certificate and badge. The timings to meet for each stroke at each level are listed in the table below.

Type Level  1


Level 2


Level 3
Level 4


Level 5


Level 6


Front Crawl ≤1:05 ≤2:30 ≤5:20 ≤10:40 ≤21:20 ≤40:00
Breaststroke ≤1:20 ≤3:15 ≤7:30
Backstroke ≤1:10 ≤3:00 ≤7:00
Butterfly ≤1:20 ≤3:30 ≤7:30
Individual Medley ≤3:00 ≤7:00


How Swimming With Periods Aren’t As Bad As You Think

Hello ladies! Do you love swimming but hesitate to do so once a month? Yes, I am talking about the menstrual period, during which you may feel concerned about the blood discharging into the swimming pool. This post should provide you with the solution to this conundrum.

Let us first get the “I can use a sanitary pad” idea out of the picture. Sanitary pads tend to absorb water and a fully saturated sanitary pad will not be able to absorb the menstrual flow. Disposable sanitary pads also run the risk of disintegrating while you are swimming. Therefore, to be safe, avoid using sanitary pads when going out to swim.

Now that we have gotten that out of the picture, let us talk the things that you can do to swim with a peace of mind. The first method would be to use internally worn products such as tampons and menstrual cups. Tampons are very effective when it comes to containing the blood and can be disposed after use. An environmentally friendly option would be through the use of menstrual cups which can be cleaned, sterilised and used for your next swim.

Some of you may be uncomfortable with the idea of inserting an object into your private area. There is a saying that the water pressure will keep the fluids in and minimise leakages. Furthermore, the fluids will stay in there for about a minute after you exit the water. This gives you some time to quickly make your way to the toilet. Although I have seen this method being employed successfully, I am hesitant about advocating it. You may choose to do so at your own risk and preferably when there is a low flow rate.

The last concern that I would like to address in this post is the fear of staining your swim suits. There is no way to be sure that there will not be accidental leaks that may stain your swim suit. As such, it would be wise for you to don a dark coloured swim suit when swimming during your periods.

Hopefully, this post was able to clear up some of the concerns that you may have regarding swimming during your periods. It’s not as bad as you think, so don’t let your period prevent you from having some fun at the pool in sunny Singapore. If you would like to share your experience swimming during your periods or if you have other solutions that were not mentioned in this post, do comment below. 🙂

The author is a male swimming instructor who was clueless about swimming and periods when he first started out. Along the way, his students sought his advice on swimming during their periods and he had to find some answers. He is now much less clueless about swimming and periods.

12 facts about swimming to impress your friends

12 Facts About Swimming That Will Impress Your Friends

You are out with your friends or people you have just met. At this time, you realise that you have run out of things to say or have no idea what to start talking about. This is when you will wish that you have something interesting to talk about just to break the silence. That is why it’s always handy to have some fun facts ready to go. Here are some fun facts about swimming that may turn out to be helpful.

1. Swimming helps you to reduce stress, check out our blog post to find out more.
2. Freestyle is the name of a swimming event.
3. The front crawl is the most popular stroke in the freestyle event, it is so popular that people tend to call it the freestyle.
4. The front crawl is the fastest and most efficient stroke.
5. The oldest stroke form is the breaststroke.
6. Swimming was first introduced at the Olympics in 1896.
7. People could have started swimming from as early as 2500BC based on ancient drawings and paintings found in Egypt.
8. The first recorded swimming races were held in Japan in 36BC
9. When swimming breaststroke and butterfly stroke, swimmers are required to finish their swim with both hands touching the wall simultaneously.
10. When swimming freestyle and backstroke, swimmers are required to finish their swim with only one hand.
11. It is possible to dehydrate while swimming.
12. There were 1,308 participants in the world’s largest swimming lesson and was achieved by the World Waterpark Association (USA) at Sun-N-Fun Lagoon in Naples, Florida, USA, on 20 June 2014.
Do you happen to know any other fun facts about swimming? We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below 🙂


Largest swimming lesson (single venue). Guinness World Records. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
FINA Swimming Rules, 2013-2017. Fédération Internationale de Natation.

Singapore Swimming Complexes

Swimming Pool Closure – S.E.A Games Special

Singapore will be hosting the S.E.A Games 2015. It is indeed exciting for us to be able to see our athletes battle it out with the best of the best in South East Asia right here on Singapore soil. However, due to limited resources, each of us will have to do our part to support this major event. Selected sports facilities and Sport Singapore staff members are required to support the S.E.A Games 2015.

As such, members of the public, such as ourselves, will have to do our part by going to other swimming pools for our daily swim should our nearby pools be closed. In order to help you plan your swimming schedules, here are the days of closure for pools and our recommended nearby pools.

Swimming pool closures from 2 to 16 June 2015
Nearby pools
Sengkang, Serangoon
Pasir Ris, Bedok
Yio Chu Kang
Ang Mo Kio
Yio Chu Kang
MOE (Evans)
Toa Payoh
Ang Mo Kio, Kallang Basin
Yishun, Choa Chu Kang
Kallang Basin, Geylang East
Bukit Batok
Jurong East, Choa Chu Kang
Kallang Basin
Geylang East
Jurong East, Bukit Batok
Yio Chu Kang
Yishun, Ang Mo Kio
Geylang East


Swimming Complex
Closed from
Re-opened on
Nearby Pools
28 May 2015
15 June 2015
Ang Mo Kio
Jalan Besar
31 May 2015
12 June 2015
Kallang Basin

Please note that the closure dates do not take into account the weekly pool maintenance closure dates. You can download our mobile apps for Android and iOS for details on regular pool opening timings and weekly pool maintenance dates.


SwimInSG hereby wishes Singapore great success at the upcoming S.E.A Games 2015 ^.^v




Swimming Lessons: SwimSafer

SwimSafer is a national water safety programme that draws on elements of the National Survival Swimming Award (NASSA) and Learn-to-swim (LTS) programme. Introduced in July 2010 by the National Water Safety Council (NWSC), it aims to progressively teach children  swimming and water survival skills over six stages. Upon the successful completion of each stage, the child will receive a certificate detailing his/her skill achievements.


Each of the six stages progressively imparts skills in the following areas.

  • Entries / Exits
  • Sculling and Body Orientation
  • Underwater Skills
  • Movement / Swimming strokes
  • Survival Skills
  • Rescue Skills
  • Knowledge


Stage 1: Introduction to water skills

This stage of the programme seeks to build water confidence and impart water safety knowledge to the child. In addition, it introduces forward and backward movement along with safe entry and exit techniques.


Stage 2: Fundamental water skills

The knowledge and skills learnt at this stage are built upon those that were acquired in Stage 1. New skills that are taught at this stage include unassisted step entry, sculling, feet first surface dives and personal water safety skills. The child will also be required to be able to swim 25 metres continuously.


Stage 3: Personal and Stroke Development Skills

At this stage, the child will learn personal survival skills and some basic rescue skills. Skills taught in Stage 2 of the programme such as sculling and underwater skills will be further developed here. The child will also learn how to use a personal flotation device. At this stage of the programme, the child should be able to swim 50 metres continuously.


Stage 4 (a.k.a Bronze): Personal Survival and Stroke Improvement Skills

This is where the child’s swimming strokes and breathing techniques will be developed. Throughout this stage, children will build up their stamina and work towards swimming 100 metres continuously. Also, personal survival skills and basic rescue skills will be further developed. At the same time, knowledge on water craft safety will be introduced.


Stage 5 ( a.k.a Silver): Intermediate Personal Survival and Stroke Refinement Skills

This is the point where fundamentals of diving will be introduced.  Advancements in the level of rescue skills and personal survival knowledge is to be expected and children should be able to demonstrate efficient stroke techniques by the end of this stage.


Stage 6 (a.k.a Gold): Advance Personal Survival and Swimming Skill Proficiency

SwimSafer Gold is the final stage of the programme and children will have to perform strokes with relative finesse over 400 metres. Standing dive and personal safety skills will continue to be imparted at this stage in addition to rescue skills and water safety knowledge

Singapore Children Group Class

Swimming Lessons: Private vs. Group

What kind of swimming lessons would better suit your learning needs? We understand that there may be several considerations such as cost and coach-student ratio. This article seeks to furnish you with more information to help you with your decision making process.

Private Swimming Lessons

Private swimming lessons would provide you with the flexibility of choosing the location, timing and class size. However, the flexibility does come with a price, which makes the private swimming class more expensive than a group swimming class.

It is important to highlight that the use of location for swimming lessons is highly dependent on the facility management. For example, some condominiums may charge the instructor a monthly fee or require the instructor to pay a deposit in order to coach at the pool. You will have to be prepared to bear such fees for the convenience of using your condominium pool. In addition, pools that belong to clubs tend to partner with swimming schools, which mean that you can only register with the partnered swimming school for lessons.

The timings for the lessons are subject to the availability of swimming instructors. You may have difficulty getting instructors at popular timeslots. We would also advise you to choose your preferred timeslot and stick to it, as it would be unfair for the instructor to constantly rearrange his schedule.

Class size is determined upon registration when you sign up together with your friends. Unlike group classes, instructors cannot take in other students other than those already in your class. As such, private classes are usually small in size with excellent coach-student ratio.

Group Swimming Lessons

Group swimming lessons are managed by the instructor or the swim school that you sign up with. They will set the timing of the lessons, as well as the location. These lessons are open to the public for registration and are only limited to the maximum class size set by the facility management, the instructor or the swim school. All you have to do is to find a group class at your preferred pool and sign up.  To give you an idea of the maximum class size of swimming classes, Sport Singapore stipulates that swimming instructors conducting lessons in their pools can only have a maximum of 10 students at any given time.

Another benefit of a group class is that students get to make new friends in class and learn a new skill together while having fun. Group swimming lessons are also less taxing on the wallet.

Now that you have a better idea of what private and group classes have to offer, we hope that you will be able to make better-informed decisions when registering for swimming lessons. May you have an awesome experience learning swimming!

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