The lake is located at the Tyersall Avenue entrance to the gardens within the Tanglin Core, and is one of the most well-known locations in the garden's grounds. As the name suggests, the lake's name was inspired by swans populating it. The pair of mute swans was imported from Amsterdam.
Added to the gardens in 1866, the lake covers an area of about 15,000 m² (1.5ha). The lake was closed for upgrading in 2003, and it was completed in April 2005 as part of the gardens' Tanglin Core Redevelopment.