Last lap for Buona Vista Swimming Complex

Mr Cheng Yoon Kong, 83, taking part in the charity swim at the swimming complex yesterday. The retired technician, who is a regular there, swam 26 laps in an hour.

SINGAPORE - On its last day of operations, the pool lanes at the 38-year-old Buona Vista Swimming Complex were packed with swimmers splashing and churning, as the community held a final swim for charity.

More than 220 swimmers showed up for the "Hasta la vista Buona Vista" pool party, swimming 8,642 laps and raising $6,800 for The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund.

Ten past and present lifeguards rounded the evening off by swimming a final lap.

Triathlete Dennis Quek, 51, one of a group of volunteers who organised the event, said: "Actually, we expected only about 50 or 60 people to show up."

ST School Pocket Money Fund general manager Martina Wong said it was "heartwarming to see so many people come for a party to raise funds and to say farewell to a place they are so fond of".

Built in 1976, the swimming complex is to make way for new developments, including a mixed-use development and a community park. The Singapore Sports School brought its entire swim team. Some 55 students and staff members did laps in the pool in lieu of a regular training session.

"It's a good cause, and in the name of national education," said the school's swimming general manager Ng Kok Wei, 46. "They learn about the changing landscape of Singapore, where the old gives way to the new; about the masterplan for Holland Village and about urban planning."

In fact, Buona Vista was where Singapore Sports School Secondary 3 student Hoong Enqi, 15, learnt to swim 11 years ago.

Her mother, Mrs Katherine Hoong, 49, said: "I remember the baby pool was very cold because it was sheltered from the sun, and we were always here early in the morning every Sunday."

Long-time pool stalwarts Phillip Tan, 85, and Cheng Yoon Kong, 83, were there too; Mr Cheng took the plunge, while Mr Tan sat on the sidelines, chatting with other regulars.

Mr Tan, a resident of 40 years who swims there every weekday evening, said: "This is the last night I can be here, so I might as well watch them and enjoy myself. But my heart is very sad."

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