THE Water Sports Centre at the Singapore Sports Hub has already proved invaluable to the national canoeists and kayakers, with a bigger water body to train on and a prime location where all their other training needs are easily accessible.
The facility, which is open to the public, is now looking to help families in particular build an affinity with water sports. It recently added a fleet of pedal boats and pedal bikes, targeted at families, to its inventory of kayaks and canoes.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu tried her hand on one such bike yesterday morning when she launched the centre and flagged off its latest fleet of boats.
The Water Sports Centre, which also functions as the training base for the Singapore Canoe Federation, is the only water facility operator within the Marina Reservoir precinct that provides fun-boating as a staple offering to the public.
Since it opened its doors in August last year, the facility has seen an increase in usage by more than threefold.
Said Ms Fu: "Many (national athletes) have talked about how the facility met their training goals and it's great to have an excellent training facility for water sports.
"Today we see an expansion of the fleet and an element of getting families included.
"It's great to see Singaporeans embracing water. It's so much a part of our island state of living. It's good to have a form of exercise built into family lives.
"I encourage all families to bring their children here to enjoy a dose of sun and great outdoor sporting events."
Pedal-boat rental starts from $6.40 (children, students and senior citizens) and $10.80 (adults) for an hour, while kayak and canoe rentals start from $8 and $12 for two hours.
Besides providing watercraft for hire, the Water Sports Centre offers kayak/canoe orientation programmes for beginners. Plans are afoot to expand the inventory further to include dragon boats and add dragon-boat orientation and higher-level kayak programmes.
Tan Yoke Teong, 48, spent the weekend going through a two-day, one-star kayak orientation programme with his 13-year-old son.
Said the telecoms professional: "The programme teaches us about the safety aspects of kayaking and how to control your boat, which is very good because without proper training you can make mistakes.
"My son was a bit nervous when we first started but I think the programme has given him a lot more confidence for when we go kayaking in the future."
Meanwhile, national kayaker Stephenie Chen, 24, is thankful for the one-stop accessibility of her new training base.
Said the SEA Games champion, who also won a bronze in the K1 200m event at the recent Asian Canoe Sprint Championships in Palembang: "We used to train at MacRitchie Reservoir, which was a much smaller water body. The most you could do was about 2.5km up and down. Here, you can paddle for about 10km, which is really good for long-distance training.
"It's just next to the Singapore Sports Institute, where we go to see our physiotherapists and rest."
Singapore collected a record seven-gold haul at the SEA Games when the sport was contested at the Water Sports Centre.
Added Chen: "Being able to train here for the few months before SEA Games was a definite home advantage."
Get MyPaper for more stories.