Eton Dorney Rowing Centre is an artificial lake in a 400-acre park within a nature conservation area. It is also known as one of the best rowing facilities in the world. In the past, it has hosted local community events as well as elite-level competitions. Olympic officials got an idea of how the lake may stand up in the Games back in 2006, when the 2006 Rowing World Championships were held there. Since then, improvements have been made to provide the best possible location for rowing and canoeing Olympic sports.
Location: Buckinghamshire, near Dorney, Buckinghamshire. It's also known as Dorney Lake, and is about 25 miles west of London, near Windsor Castle
Year built: Construction on improvements began in October 2009, and were completed in Spring 2010.
Seating Capacity: 30,000
Events: Canoe Sprint; Rowing; Paralympic rowing
Olympics schedule: Rowing: July 28 - Aug 4; Canoe Sprint: Aug 6 - Aug 11; Paralympic rowing: Aug 31 - Sep 2
Test events: Aug 4-7, 2011: Rowing, FISA World Rowing Junior Championships; Sept 1-4, 2011: Canoe (Sprint), International Invitational (men's)
Transportation: There are several options for getting to the venue. One of the best options is National Rail: Slough - about a 30-minute ride from London Paddington station (recommended for spectators); Windsor & Eton Riverside - about a one-hour ride from London Waterloo station; Maidenhead - for services from the north or west of the facility.
History: The lake was originally created by Eton College in the 1960s. The college wanted a still-water course for their activities so they wouldn't have to deal with choppy waters in the Thames.
The venue had to be enhanced for the Olympic games. The enhancements provide areas for the athletes to warm up, and also for the canoe sprint event. They also involved constructing new bridges for easy access over the lakes, and easier access and transportation around the lake in general.
Post games uses: The venue will continue to be used for world-class training and competitions.
Other Facts: Eton Dorney has a 2,200 meter, eight-lane rowing course, warm-up lanes, and competition facilities.
The facility was one of the best in the world before the improvements that allowed the venue to meet the requirements of the Games. Specific improvements included: a new cut-through at the 1,400m mark to allow competitors to navigate from the return lane to the competition course (previously, the 600m mark was the only cut-through); one bridge that spans the new cut-through; a second bridge that replaced the finish line bridge with a wider one.
Construction material for the improvements was extracted and removed on a special conveyor belt in order to minimize disruption to the local community. The materials were moved to a collection area two miles from the lake.
The author has been an intense fan of the Olympics as long as she can remember. Her parents were also fans, and she was raised watching the Games on TV since birth.