Chan Ah Kow

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Chan Ah Kow (陈亚九, 1912 – 10 March 1996) was a Singaporean swimming coach.[1]


Chan was noted for his experimental training methods; though he had little swimming experience himself, he trained his children extensively, helping them go on to dominate swimming in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and 1970s.[2] In particular, his youngest daughter Patricia Chan Li-yin would earn numerous gold medals for Singapore at the Southeast Asian Games, earning her the moniker "Singapore's Golden Girl".[3] Another daughter of his, Victoria Lye-hua Chan-Palay, went on to prominence as a neuroscientist in the United States and Switzerland.[4] His son Roy Chan Kum Wah attended the Anglo-Chinese School, where aside from distinction in swimming (he was part of the men's 4 × 200 m relay team that won a bronze medal at the 1970 Asian Games) he also achieved excellent academic results, earning him a President's Scholarship.[5][6][7] Two other sons Alex Chan Meng Wah and Bernard Chan Cheng Wah were also swimmers, the latter representing Singapore at the 1966 Asian Games.[8][9] The other son Mark Chan later became a composer.[10][11] One of his granddaughters Marina Chan is also an international swimmer.[12]

Chan was jointly awarded the Singapore National Olympic Council's first coach of the year award when it was instituted in 1970, along with Tan Eng Yoon and Ang Teck Bee; he would go on to receive it again as sole winner in 1971 and 1972.[13]


Chan moved into a villa on 55,000 square feet (5,100 m2) of land in Mountbatten Road in the 1940s, and raised his family there. It was a local landmark known as the "walled city". The Urban Development Authority gave it conservation status in 1993. After Chan's death, his family sold the property to Simon Cheong of SC Global Development in 2004 for SG$11 million.[14]


  1. ^ "泳坛名教练陈亚九医生病逝". Lianhe Zaobao. 1996-03-12. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  2. ^ "Coach of the Year: Dr Chan Ah Kow". Sports Museum of Singapore. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  3. ^ Tan, Bonny (2010-04-29). "Patricia Chan". Singapore Infopedia. Retrieved 2012-11-30. 
  4. ^ Govindram, Ranee (1975-06-15). "Ex-swim star gets rare varsity honour; Harvard award for Dr. Chan's daughter Vicky". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2012-11-01. 
  5. ^ "Swimmer Roy also shines in studies". The Straits Times. 1972-03-13. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  6. ^ "Roy to unveil plaque at Ocean Building". The Straits Times. 1974-07-17. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  7. ^ Asian Games Winners (PDF). Singapore National Olympic Council. 2002. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  8. ^ "Swim star weds". The Straits Times. 1978-08-04. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  9. ^ "Host Nations and Representatives for the Asian Games". Sports Museum of Singapore. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  10. ^ "Little night music with Pat Chan". Fridae Asia. 2004-03-22. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  11. ^ "陈国华". China Central Television. 2007-09-05. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  12. ^ Toh Ting Wei (11 June 2014). "Marina keeps Chan name flying". The Straits Times. Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings. Retrieved 15 September 2014 – via AsiaOne. 
  13. ^ "Coach of the Year". Singapore National Olympic Council. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 
  14. ^ Tay, Suan Chiang (2007-09-08). "Living Legends: Katong's 'walled city'". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2012-11-03. 

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