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.

How to Buy Wetsuit for Children

Your child’s attention span will become shorter if he/she is feeling cold in class, and if this occurs frequently, your child may become reluctant to go for class. As a parent, you can play your part by getting your child the right swimwear.

Types of Wetsuits

There are 2 types of wetsuits that are commonly seen here in Singapore – the Full Suit, and the Shortie.

The Full Suit will cover the entire arms and legs of the wearer, and can offer more protection against the cold as compared to a Shortie, which ends above the elbows and knees. However, for the purposes of swimming lessons, a Full Suit is not recommended as it can restrict the movement of your child. The Shortie can keep your child warm, as long as the next 2 sections are taken into consideration.

Thickness of Wetsuits

Wetsuits come in a range of thickness, commonly between 1.5mm to 6mm. There are 2 things to note about the thickness of the wetsuit:

  1. The thicker it is, the better it is at keeping your child warm
  2. The thicker the wetsuit, the less flexible it becomes

The thickness to get for your child would depend on your child’s ability to withstand the cold. Generally, you would not want to get anything more than 3mm for a child as it can restrict the range of movements of your child.


A wetsuit is completely useless against the cold if the fit is not right. That is because the water will get into the suit from the various openings. As such, when selecting a wetsuit, get one that is a snug fit for your child.

Of course, children tend to outgrow the wetsuit fairly quickly. There are 2 things you can choose to do here – buy a cheap wetsuit that fits snugly, and change it frequently OR get a wetsuit that is slightly loose. Do note that wetsuits tend to stretch with use, so do not get one that is too loose initially.

Keep the points above in mind when getting your child the right wetsuit, and he/she will stay nice and warm while learning to swim!

Singapore Swimming Complex Closed

Why Is The Pool Closed On A Sunny Day?

Have you ever been to the nearest swimming complex on a bright and sunny morning, only to find that it is closed? In this blog post, you will find 3 possible reasons for the swimming complex being closed.

Operating Hours

The first possible reason for the swimming complex being closed would be that you arrived at the complex outside of its operating hours. Some swimming pools are closed on certain weekday mornings for pool cleaning, and will only open from 2.30pm onwards on that day. Featured pools such as Jurong East Swimming Complex and Pasir Ris Swimming Complex are closed for the whole day for pool cleaning.


Swimming complexes may also be closed for an extended period for renovations. For example, Clementi Swimming Complex is closed from 1 Feb 2016 to 14 May 2016 for the replacement of metal roofing.

For the above 2 reasons, SwimInSG is here to help! Simply refer to our website here to check the operating hours of the swimming complex.


The public swimming complexes in Singapore will not allow the public to enter its premises when the pool is closed temporarily due to lightning activity in the area. While it may look bright and sunny at the swimming complex, ActiveSG’s protocol is to close the swimming complex when there is lightning activity within a few kilometres. This radius has been increased in the past few months for the safety of the public, resulting in increased occurrences of pool closures.

Now that you know what are the possible reasons for a swimming complex to be closed, be sure to check the pool operating hours as well as the lightning activity before heading down!

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 🙂


sun protective clothing

Sun Protective Clothing

This is the last part of our 3-part series on sun protection.

After a long day at the beach with inadequate sun protection, you will find very obvious tan lines on your arms and legs. This is due to the fact that your clothing is able to provide you with some UV protection. However, is that enough?

Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF)

Instead of SPF (Sun Protection Factor), you will find that sun protective clothing will carry UPF ratings. A clothing’s UPF rating gives an indication of its ability to block both UVA and UVB rays.

UPF 1524 blocks 93.3%95.9% UV rays
UPF 2539 blocks 96.0%97.4% UV rays
UPF 4050+ blocks 97.5%98+% UV rays

Normal Clothing vs. Sun Protective Clothing

Back to the question of whether your normal clothing is offering enough UV protection, the answer is NO.

The UPF rating of normal clothing is estimated to be about UPF 6, which still allows about 17% of the UV rays through. Even a bottle of SPF 15 sunblock offers more protection than that! Therefore, if you are going to be staying under the sun for prolonged periods (e.g. kayaking), do put on clothing with higher UPF ratings. It is easy to find clothing with UPF rating of 50/50+. Billabong, Quiksilver and Uniqlo (women’s only) are some brands that carry sun protective clothing.

Is Sunblock Redundant Then?

NO! Definitely not!

Firstly, your sun protective clothing cannot possibly cover every inch of your body. Secondly, the UV protection of the sun protective clothing may be reduced when it gets wet, over-stretched, or worn out.

As such, in order to keep your skin protected from UV rays and to remain fair, you should still apply sunblock, even under your sun protective clothing. If you have a friend who refuses to put on sunblock just because he is wearing a rash guard, don’t forget to share this post with him 😉

sunglasses sun protection

Sunglasses – What You Must Know

This post is the second of SwimInSG’s 3-part series on sun protection.

Do you know that UV rays can cause cataracts, cancer of the eye, and even blindness? If you do not want to increase your risk of getting the abovementioned medical problems, you should definitely read on!

Sunglasses – How They Work

When you are under the sun on a bright and sunny day, the iris in your eye will constrict to reduce the amount of light reaching your cornea. When you put on a pair of sunglasses, the iris will dilate (open up) to allow more light to enter. The darker the tint of your lenses, the more your iris will dilate to allow light in (up to a comfortable level).

A label that you will commonly see when purchasing sunglasses is “UV 400”. This means that the lenses on the sunglasses can protect your eyes from both UVA and UVB rays.

Cheap vs. Imitation

There is nothing wrong with wearing a pair of cheap sunglasses. Brands such as Oakley and Ray-Ban are expensive as they spend a lot on marketing and branding, and these costs are being passed on to consumers. A pair of cheap sunglasses from a lesser-known brand may offer as much protection as a pair of Ray-Ban.

However, the problem lies with wearing a pair of imitation sunglasses. While they may be cheap and look as good as the real thing, it is actually very bad for your eyes. Most of the time, imitations will have the same “UV 400” label, but it actually does not provide UV protection. What you are paying for would probably be just for lenses that are tinted, and nothing more.

When you put on that pair of imitation sunglasses, it still protects your eyes from intense sunlight, and causes your iris to dilate. What this means is that by putting on that pair of imitation sunglasses, you are subjecting your eyes to greater risk than when you do not put on any sunglasses at all!

But I Wear Contact Lenses With UV Protection!

There are contact lenses that offer UV protection for the eye. However, as the manufacturer clearly states:

contact lens uv protection
Retrieved from on 3 Oct. 15

Now that you know about the risk of wearing sunglasses without UV protection, be sure to only buy sunglasses from reputable sellers, and throw out any pair of sunglasses without UV protection you may have. Don’t forget to share this piece of information with your loved ones as well 🙂

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.

Sun Protection Factor – The Higher The Better?

Do you know the meaning of the SPF number on your bottle of sunblock? Is it true that a bottle of SPF 100 sunblock provides greater protection than a bottle of SPF 30 sunblock? Is the SPF all that you look for when you purchase a bottle of sunblock? This post seeks to help you make better decisions when you purchase your next bottle of sunblock.


The sun protection factor (SPF) measures the amount of protection provided by the sunblock to block UVB rays. UVB rays are the main cause of getting sunburns. So what exactly do the numbers mean?

SPF 15 blocks about 93% of UVB rays
SPF 30 blocks about 97% of UVB rays
SPF 50 blocks about 98% of UVB rays
SPF 100 blocks about 99% of UVB rays

From the above, you can see that an SPF 30 sunblock isn’t twice as effective as an SPF 15 sunblock. There is only a marginal increase in effectiveness in blocking UVB rays as the SPF increases. In fact, no sunblock offers 100% UVB protection. Most importantly, using a sunblock with a higher SPF value does not mean that you can apply the sunblock less frequently! Regardless of SPF value, the sunblock would probably be gone after a few hours. The National Skin Centre (Singapore) recommends a water-resistant sunblock to be reapplied every 2 hours (1 hour if you have been swimming). This means that sunblock that is not water-resistant should be applied much more frequently as your perspiration would have caused the sunblock to wear off faster.

Protection Grade of UVA (PA)

Having mentioned so much about UVB, you may be wondering if there is a UVA, and whether it is important at all. If you are concerned about your looks, UVA is VERY important! UVA accelerates the aging of your skin! On top of that, UVA has been found to result in long-term skin damage and just like UVB, can cause skin cancer.

Most sunblock now offers both UVA and UVB protection. UVA protection may be indicated by phrases such as “broad spectrum” and “multi spectrum”. Many also use PA to indicate UVA protection, with PA+++ offering more UVA protection than PA++.

Now that you know more about UVA and UVB protection, be sure to get the bottle of sunblock that provides you with the level of protection that you are comfortable with, and reapply it frequently!

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


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