The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


The man who rowed across the Atlantic Ocean visits SMU

Lithuanian rower shares new film with SMU and Dallas Lithuanian community
Caroline Pierce
Aurimas Valujavičius, right, proudly stands waiting to show his new film at Southern Methodist University Frances Anne Moody Hall.

When you never give up you never lose, a Lithuanian rower said Sunday at Southern Methodist University Frances Anne Moody Hall.

Aurimas Valujavičius is a Lithuanian YouTuber who rowed the Atlantic Ocean alone from Spain to Florida at 29 years old. Valujavičius’s journey inspired millions and he soon became a celebrity. Now he takes part in a tour of United States Lithuanian communities showing his new film “Irklais per Atlanta” (I Rowed the Atlantic). The Dallas Chapter of the Lithuanian Community chose SMU campus and community to welcome Valujavičius.

Valujavičius proudly introduced SMU students, faculty, and members of the Lithuanian Community to a first look at his project before it is released to streaming services.

The preparation for his journey may have taken three years but the film itself was condensed from over nine hours of raw footage to an hour and 40 minutes, Valujavičius said.

“I worked with my team to document the logistics, planning, and preparation for my journey,” he said. “Now you all are the critics of the movie so enjoy and don’t get wet.”

The film shows Valujavičius’s intense training regimen as his life consisted of strictly rowing and then working out every day twice a day.

Participants watch Aurimas Valujavičius new film Sunday at Southern Methodist University Frances Anne Moody Hall. (Caroline Pierce)

His motivation for keeping up with his training was not for competition or appearance, but rather for survival when he enters the open ocean alone, he said.

Valujavičius set sail on his boat “Lituanica” on Nov. 20, 2022, beginning the 10th adventurous journey of his career traveling and documenting the world. The route from Ayamonte, Spain, to Miami, Florida, had only been rowed by two other people before him.

We must live adventurous lives instead of living life through frames, Valujavičius said.

“We think we are something big in this world but really we are just a grain of sand from a dune or a drop in the ocean,” he said.

Valujavičius’s journey took 120 days before he reached Miami’s shore, and he encountered some setbacks along the way. Early on at sea, his boat capsized due to a large wave, knocking him and his belongings into the ocean. Luckily, Valujavičius’s training helped prepare him for moments like these and he safely got himself back onto his boat. He went through weeks with little wind causing his speed and rowing to slow. Finally, one of his oars broke due to the strength of the ocean waves and he had to use a replacement.

However, Valujavičius did not let these setbacks hurt his spirit as he grew to enjoy the quiet and calm of the open ocean.

He said he found peace in his journey and got comfortable with his new lifestyle.

“It’s so quiet, I’ve gotten to love the Atlantic,” Valujavičius said. “There’s so much noise on land.”

After rowing 5000 miles, Valujavičius saw the bright Miami skyline and set foot on shore. He was greeted by a joyous crowd, many of whom were waving the Lithuanian flag. Fans from around the world watched as Valujavičius became the first Lithuanian and third person in the world to complete a solo row from Europe to North America.

In a question and answer session following the film Valujavičius said he was living for adventure because it makes him happy.

The most important advice he said he would give others is “Don’t stop rowing.”

To be able to pull off what Valujavičius did is incredible, said Sara Kite, an SMU graduate student who attended the event.

“He’s so young and so motivated and to be able to pull it off is an incredible feat that the mass majority of people on this planet wouldn’t think to do,” she said.

Valujavičius’s personality and drive have helped endorse the Lithuanian community, said Edita Ruzgyte, clinical associate professor at SMU Simmons School of Education and Human Development Counseling Department, and member of the Dallas Chapter of the Lithuanian Community.

“He has promoted not only Lithuania but he is promoting the personal characteristics of discipline, perseverance, and motivation,” she said.

So what’s next for Aurimas Valujavičius? For his 12th thrilling journey, he will head to New Zealand and attempt to cycle across the country. Perhaps after that trip he will make his way to Dallas again and share his newest adventure with the SMU community.

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