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Summer Olympics Venues: Dorney Lake

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Summer Olympics Venues: Dorney Lake
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Aerial view of Dorney Lake, Buckinghamshire, England.

The 2012 London Olympic Games will run from July 27 through August 12. The Olympic competitions will take place at a number of different venues located in and around London, England. One of the key Olympic sites is Dorney Lake. All of the information on this event location comes from Dorney Lake's official website unless otherwise noted.

About Dorney Lake

The area's full name is Eton College Rowing Center, Dorney Lake. The 450 acre site contains a human built lake, the Boathouse, the Finish Tower/Eton Suite, and a 400 acre park. The property is owned by Eton College but managed by an independent, non-profit organization, The Dorney Lake Trust. While Dorney Lake is privately owned, visitors are usually welcome on the site free of charge, provided they follow certain posted rules and regulations. Dorney Lake is near Windsor, England, and, per the London Olympics' official website, is "located around 25 miles west of London."

The Lake: The main portion of the lake is approximately 2200 meters (1.38 miles) long, 108 meters (118.11 yards) wide, and 3.5 meters (11.48 feet) deep. Dorney Lake also contains a smaller section that is used by boats as a warm-up area during competitions and as a means for traveling the lake without interfering with races. The site's creators built the lake to serve as an official racecourse for kayak and rowing events, and they certainly accomplished this task. Dorney Lake "is acclaimed as one of the finest [rowing courses] in the world."

The Boathouse: The facility houses administrative offices, a gymnasium with state of the art rowing machines, and a storage area for around "300 [of] Eton College Boat Club's boats." The Boathouse also contains two meetings rooms which can hold around 220 people. It is ideal for small conventions and business meetings.

The Finish Tower/Eton Suite: It houses judges and media during boat competitions. At other times, "it can be hired for hospitality purposes." The facility's meeting room can hold up to 40 people.

The Park: The carefully maintained, 400 acre park was designed to contain both wooded areas and grassy fields. Visitors to the park can espy beautiful vistas, including one of Windsor Castle. The park is also considered an arboretum, and "provides a home for increasing numbers of" flora and fauna.

Dorney Lake's History

Rowing instructors at Eton College first conceived of constructing a boat racing course at the site in the 1960s. They believed that it would serve as a safe alternative to the unpredictable Thames River. Construction on the Dorney Lake site began in 1996 and was mostly completed by 2006. Immediately upon its completion, experts acknowledged it as a premier site for boat races.

Dorney Lake and the 2012 London Olympics

Per the 2012 London Olympics' website, Dorney Lake is one of the key Olympic venues. The site will host the men's and women's rowing events, which will run from Saturday, July 28 through Saturday, August 4. The Olympic kayak (canoe) competitions will also take place at Dorney Lake and will run from Monday, August 6 to Saturday, August 11. The kayak events will use all eight of Dorney Lake's racing lanes, while the rowing contests will only utilize six of the lanes. Fans can watch the races from the lakeshore.

Interesting Facts about Dorney Lake

-Archeologists were permitted on the Dorney Lake site during construction for "a period of 18 months." "They found one of the most complete rural landscape histories in Britain, dating from the last Ice Age 12,000 years ago."

-The lake "holds some 350,000,000 gallons of water."

-"Over 30,000 trees have been planted in the park." The Dorney Lake Trust accepts donations of trees, and keeps "a database…of all Dorney Lake's trees including those presented [as gifts]."

-Visitors to Dorney Lake can take part in dragon boat competitions in which teams of "up to 10 or 16 paddlers" race against each other in 30 to 40 foot boats with prows shaped like dragon heads. Each boat contains a "helm" who helps to motivate rowers by beating on a drum.

-Dorney Lake also has staff on hand to teach visitors how to roller ski. The leisure activity resembles snow skiing, except individuals use poles and skis with wheels (on their bottoms) to propel themselves over grass or asphalt surfaces.

More from this contributor

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The author is a freelance writer who happens to be an avid sports fan. He is not affiliated with any Olympic organizations, rowing teams, or kayak squads. Additionally, he does not have any connections to Dorney Lake.

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