A view of the back of three athletes on rowing machines, two on stationary bikes looking out from the boathouse to the lake.

Athletes work out as others move boats into the new boathouse.

It’s “move-in” time at The Boathouse at Lake Lanier Olympic Park!

The first quarter of 2024 is an exciting time for the Gainesville community and the legacy of the 1996 Olympics. There is a flurry of activity as the new Boathouse at Lake Lanier Olympic Park welcomes its first generation of youth, athletes, professionals, and community members as they prepare for the 2024 season of sprint canoe/kayak and rowing education, recreation, and competition.

Executive Director of the Lanier Canoe/Kayak Club (LCKC), Kim Martin, and Head Coach of the Lake Lanier Rowing Club (LLRC), Howell Buot, are guiding athletes and volunteers as they move their boats and equipment from storage into the new facility. Each club has its own storage space, while they share the weight room area. Moving in has been a lot of boat cleaning, heavy lifting and organizing as they get a feel for their new digs. But also expressions of excitement and appreciation abound as many of the problems that plagued the old boathouse, like flooding, crowded storage spaces and old equipment have been remedied. The weight room with new equipment, upgraded locker rooms and showers is a boon for athletes and recreational members alike. It also features the large colorful logo from the original ’96 boathouse. (For club information visit their websites: LCKC.org and LakeLanierRowing.sportngin.com.)

The facility is also designed for much more than the rowing and paddling clubs it houses. The nearly 60,000 square foot, three-story building features a large ballroom, state-of-the-art kitchen, multiple meeting rooms, spacious patios and more, all with a wide open view of the lake. With such amenities to offer, community events, weddings, corporate retreats and more are being booked, some almost 3 years out.

For more information on events and booking The Boathouse, visit exploregainesville.org or call 770 297-5477.

A photo from the 1996 torch relay, of Jim Mathis holding the torch in the foreground and many others in the background.

Jim Mathis carries the 1996 Olympic Torch.

A touching start

It was fitting that the first gathering at “The Boathouse” was a Celebration of Life ceremony on February 4th for James E. “Jim” Mathis, Jr., who passed away January 29th. The longtime Gainesville philanthropist – along with community leaders including Mary Hart Wilheit and Steve Gilliam – was instrumental in bringing the Olympics to Lake Lanier, thus creating the original boathouse and Lake Lanier Olympic Park (LLOP). Shortly before his passing he was able to visit the new facility and see “The Torch Room” filled with memorabilia related to the 1996 Olympics on the lake.

Now, nearly 30 years after the ’96 Olympics, its legacy remains strong. And those who helped build Lake Lanier Olympic Park into what it is today are smiling.

Upcoming events:

  • Mar 23 – John Ferris Regatta
  • Apr 19 – the first Food Truck Friday of the season
  • Apr 27 – Gainesville-Hall Dragon Boat Challenge
  • May 4 – Hall County Schools Fit Families 5K
  • May 11 – Boys and Girls Clubs of Lanier’s Rubber Duck Derby

Lanier Canoe & Kayak Club
The club is dedicated to serving anyone interested in flatwater paddling from recreational to Olympic pursuits.
Web: lckc.org
Email: info@lckc.org
Phone: 770 287-7888

Lake Lanier Rowing Club
The club is a world-class training, competition, and membership organization, offering experienced coaching and education for all levels.
Web: lakelanierrowing.sportngin.com
Email: office@lakelanierrowing.org
Phone: 770 287-0077