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Vol. LXV, No. 34
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
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(Photo Courtesy of USRowing)

FLYING SOLO: Gevvie Stone competes in the single sculls in recent action. Stone, a former Princeton University crew star, will be competing for the U.S. in the singles sculls next week at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.

Flying Solo in Juggling Medical School, Rowing, PU Alum Stone Competing in Single Sculls at Worlds

Bill Alden

In 2010, Gevvie Stone faced a crossroads in her rowing career.

Having not made the U.S. team for the 2008 Olympics and thriving at the Tufts University School of Medicine, the former Princeton University star was out of the loop in the national rowing scene.

But not wanting to give up the sport, Stone decided to fly solo, taking up the single sculls.

“I spoke to Tom [national coach Tom Terhaar] and he told me to train in Boston but there was nobody to row with,” recalled Stone.

“In medical school there is no normal schedule so I needed to be flexible and work training around classes. I was also down on rowing a bit after not making Beijing. My dad, Gregg Stone, is a single sculler so I started rowing with him. I also started training with some masters guys who were pacing me.”

Stone has taken to her singular pursuit. “It is different; it is lonely in a way,” said Stone, 26, a native of Newton, Mass. who rowed on the Princeton women’s 8 that won the NCAA grand final in 2006 and competed for the U.S. quadruple scull that took gold at the 2007 World Rowing Under-23 Championships.

“At least half of my training I am alone. There is something nice about that; I can relax and any change I make, if it is not working, it is my fault. If it is going well, it is to my credit.”

In making the transition to single sculls while still going to medical school, Stone went through some ups and downs. She won the singles sculls at the first National Selection regatta in 2010 but failed to make the U.S. team for the World Rowing Championships later in the year.

This year she won the first selection regatta and backed that up with an eighth-place finish in an international regatta in Munich, Germany but then came down with strep throat at a later regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Things came together, though, for Stone last month as she won the second National Selection Regatta, qualifying for a spot in the 2011 World Rowing Championships to be held next week on Lake Bled in Bled, Slovenia.

For Stone, not making the worlds in 2010 helped put her on the track to qualifying for Slovenia.

“Not making the team for the worlds was a huge disappointment,” said Stone. “I changed parts of my training. I saw weaknesses that I needed to work on. I started lifting weights more seriously. I had endurance, but I needed to build more power and speed.”

Taking a leave from her medical studies this year to focus on her rowing with the Olympics around the corner, Stone started 2011 still pondering her options in the sport.

“I wasn’t sure that the single was for me but then I won the first selection regatta,” said Stone.

“I stayed in Princeton and took second on the double. I could’ve gone to quad camp; I discussed it with Tom and he said the best option for me was to do the single this year.”

Stone built on her success at the national competition by doing well in her first stop in Europe.

“I had a good rowing experience in Munich; I came in eighth,” said Stone. “A lot of people there were fast.”

But Stone got knocked off course in Switzerland. “In Lucerne, I got sick with strep throat,” said Stone. “I came back and took it very easy for a week. My second workout was walking my parents dogs’ I had five days like that.”

By the time the second U.S. selection regatta rolled around earlier this month, Stone was ready to book her trip to Slovenia.

“I did feel at full strength, it was a tight race for 1500 meters and then I got ahead and won with open water,” said Stone, who covered the 2,000-meter course in 7:48.98.

“Margot [Shumway] raced very, very well. I raced hard; I was fitter than last year. At 600-700 meters, I was only up by half a boat length and I was thinking what am I doing. I took it up a beat. I didn’t want another close race; I just went for it. It was a relief after last year. I was happy to sprint the last 500; I was happy to have that sprint in me.”

As she looks ahead to the worlds, Stone hopes she can display that same kind of finishing sprint.

“The worlds is a drawn out regatta; it is eight days long as opposed to the usual three-day regattas we have here,” said Stone.

“It is a different taper. I am faster than I was in Lucerne but the other rowers think they are too. How much faster, we will see. It is a big test for London, the top nine qualify for the Olympics.”

If Stone is up to speed in Slovenia, she will take a big step in her quest to fly solo all the way to London.

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