In the early 1890s, a group of young European men discovered a splendid spot for swimming and recreation located to the southeastern side of Singapore. The Singapore Swimming Club (SSC) was, therefore, founded on a sandbank off Tanjong Katong beach.
A primitive attap hut with tented covering served as shelter, dressing room and protection from the weather to the 20-man group. This shelter was subsequently abandoned in favour of a bungalow they found and rented, which eventually became the location of the present-day clubhouse. Records maintain that the bungalow location was the inaugural site of the SSC, with the launch date listed as 7 February 1894.
By 1897, the club was organising regular swimming races at these premises. In addition, it is recorded within the club’s records that water polo was also played since 1902.
A carnival was held to celebrate the occasion of a newly built clubhouse, which opened on 21 May 1904. Soon after, the club built a new swimming pool costing $54,000, and extended the clubhouse further for an additional $20,000.
In 1927, land for a full-sized Olympic swimming pool was acquired and a brand new pool was constructed along with further extensions of the building in 1930. The governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir Cecil Clementi officially opened the pool in December 1931. It was around this time that the organisation was to be officially named the “Singapore Swimming Club”.
On 1 July 1946, after World War II had abated, the club was duly reopened and comprehensive works were carried out to restore the property to its pre-war standards. Since then many improvements to the club’s premises have been made, such as the introduction of two badminton courts in 1965 to the club’s first-floor level.
A Facilities committee was established in August 1993 to develop an overall Conceptual Master Plan (CMP) that would address the conditions and utilisation of the existing club’s premises for present and future development. This committee recognised the need to maintain a sense of history for the SSC while bringing the club into the next century.
The SSC lies resplendent in all its modernity with ample facilities for recreational and sporting activities. It is truly a sparkling oasis of a jewel, its historical beachfront lying in the nearby distance.