New rowing base opened in Kaunas

Olympic medalists, European and world rowing champions will now have incomparably better conditions to train and achieve new achievements. The rowing base of the sports school “Bangapūtys” on the shore of Lake Lapmėdžiai was officially opened in Kaunas. The reconstruction, which started two years ago, has been completed. Kaunas City Municipality has invested about 3 million euros in the object and the Government gave about 2 million euros to deepen the route.

A modern complex instead of the old one

“The country’s rowers won impressive trophies for Kaunas and Lithuania, but so far they have only dreamed of quality conditions for training. Here we will have a world-class track where athletes will be able to properly prepare for top-level fights.

It is gratifying that the Government has also noticed the work of the city and the desire to create a sports complex of modern standards. Prime Minister of Lithuania Saulius Skvernelis gave a real impetus to the further work by allocating an additional 2 million euros for which the dredging and installation works of the 2 km long route will be continued”, said Kaunas Mayor Visvaldas Matijošaitis.

The rowing base of Kaunas Sports School “Bangapūtys”, built four decades ago, received attention of the city – a cardinal reconstruction was undertaken. One of the most modern water sports complexes in Europe replaced the 1979 frame building.

The old building did not have proper insulation of the walls and roof structures, so during the cold season, moisture and cold were felt inside. The premises had to be burned with coal. The local water supply and sewerage system also caused problems – the pipelines froze at sub-zero temperatures, and when the water level in Lake Lampėdžiai was monitored, sometimes athletes ran out of water in the showers.

Changes were made immediately

“Although the new rowing base has emerged in Kaunas, this object has a special significance for the whole Lithuania. I believe that the athletes growing up here will continue the glorious history of rowing sports and will once again make our country famous in the world”, said Prime Minister of Lithuania Saulius Skvernelis.

Thanks to the efforts of the “Bangapūtys” coaches, a number of winners have been raised – canoeists Tomas Gadeikis and Raimundas Labuckas, kayakers Andrej Olijnik, Ričardas Nekriošius and Elvis Sutkus, bronze medalist of the Olympic Games Donata Vištartaitė and many others.

“Our commitment to the rowers who glorify Kaunas and the country is to create the best conditions for training and reaching new heights. We hope that this space will become the main hill for new champions”, V. Matijošaitis continued.

Currently, about 450 students attend sailing, rowing, kayaking and canoe training at the “Bangapūtys” school.

In 2017, after deciding to fundamentally reconstruct the rowing base building, a year later, most of the old building was demolished and replaced by a two-story building. Gas heating has been brought to the new sports complex, modern heating and air-cooling systems are in operation, water supply and sewage are connected to the centralized city networks. The building is fully adopted for people with disabilities.

On the first floor there are school administration premises, a sauna and showers and changing rooms for athletes, and on the second floor there is a conference room and two gyms. Here, the students of the school will improve their technique and maintain good physical shape at any time of the year with the help of special rowing machines.

“I want to congratulate Kaunas on its initiative to provide a modern training base for professional athletes, amateurs and coaches in the region, especially because this city already has a long tradition of rowing sports. I hope that the new base will become not only a training ground for athletes of the region, but also an attraction for international events”, Minister of Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Lithuania Algirdas Monkevičius congratulated Kaunas residents.

Twice the length of the route

The base on the shore of Lake Lampėdžiai is highly valued not only for its good infrastructure, but also for its geographical location: there are no major waves, sudden changes in wind direction, and the water quality is good. The reservoir has all the possibilities to deepen, expand and equip a rowing track that meets the highest requirements, without disturbing the landscape. The closest sports complex of this level, located within the city limits, can be seen only in Switzerland.

Until now, “Bangapūtys” rowers have had to cover a distance on one kilometer, which is even half as small as specified in international requirements. This situation is due to the shallows, islets and peninsula that have formed naturally in the lake.

In more than half a year, sludge, excess gravel and sand deposits and other boulders have been removed from the water, and the peninsula has been excavated. It is estimated that over 155 thousand cubic meters of soil were exported during this period.

After the first dredging works of Lake Lampėdžiai, the quay and rowing base accesses were completely arranged: scrubbers and aquatic plants were removed, and new retaining walls, pontoon blocks and bridges replaced old, worn-out concrete slabs. Also remodeled sheds for storing kayaks, boats and other inventory.

Towards global standard

84 years ago, the first Lithuanian rowing championship took place in the Nemunas, therefore it is symbolic that a complex meeting the highest requirements is opening in Kaunas. Not only local but also international regattas, European or even world rowing championships can take place here. It is expected that the first competitions in the new water sports complex will be available in 2021.

According to V. Matijošaitis, in the coming years Kaunas Rowing Base will be equipped with a 2 km track that meets the requirements of the International Rowing Federation, consisting of 8 rowing paths, start-finish places, buoys and ropes marking the rowing training route. The 150-meter-wide and 3-meter-deep trails will meet the requirements for both kayaking and canoeing trails.

Kaunas – the house of sports

For the last few years, Kaunas has been working intensively on the development and renovation of sports facilities. The opening of the rowing base of Kaunas Sports School “Bangapūtys” is only one of the highlights in the general list of works. Over the last few years, 28 sports grounds have been renovated throughout the city open to the entire city community, and last year on the Jovarų st. a huge football playpen has emerged, used to train young talents throughout the year.

Currently, the reconstruction of Kaunas Sports Hall is underway at full capacity, a new winter sports center – a modern two-square ice arena – is being successfully built next to Girstutis, as well as the old “Baltų Ainiai” ice palace has been fundamentally renovated. Works will soon continue at S. Darius and S. Girėnas stadium. The city is also preparing for the construction of an athletics arena and water sports center on the Nemunas Island.

It is hoped that large-scale sports events will attract not only tourists, but also encourage athletes from other cities or even abroad to visit Kaunas and use the renewed sports facilities and city infrastructure: hotels, transport, catering establishments.