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Rowing | Gevvie Stone seeks one more Olympic bid before beginning medical career

Family and friends of Olympic rowing hopefuls watch the action on a large video screen at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Team Trials on Friday at Nathan Benderson Park. 
 GRANT JEFFERIES/Bradenton Herald
Family and friends of Olympic rowing hopefuls watch the action on a large video screen at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Team Trials on Friday at Nathan Benderson Park. GRANT JEFFERIES/Bradenton Herald gjefferies@bradenton.com

SARASOTA -- Genevra Stone decided to hold back on correcting the official as she waited on the dock before the start of her qualifying heat Friday at Nathan Benderson Park.

"Are you ready, Ms. Stone?" the official asked.

It's Dr. Stone, she briefly thought before shoving off and winning her heat by more than 11 seconds to qualify for Saturday's semifinal round at Benderson Park.

"The plan was to do Beijing and then go to med school," Stone said. "And then I didn't make Beijing, and I ended up loving the single."

Stone still went to medical school, finally graduating in 2015 after eight years. Along the way, she became perhaps the most successful woman competing in the USRowing Olympic trials this week in Sarasota. Stone finished seventh in single sculls at the 2012 Summer Olympics, has been a member of six national teams and is a threat to medal this summer in Rio de Janeiro.

But once the Olympics come and go this summer, Stone's career as a rower

will come to an end. The 30-year-old from Newton, Mass., is starting to apply for residencies as an orthopedic surgeon. After training through three Olympic cycles, she is ready to move on to her next career -- the one she's spent even longer preparing for.

Stone is the daughter of two former high-level rowers -- her mother Lisa Stone was an Olympian in 1976 and her father Gregg Stone was the top-ranked single sculler in 1980 when the United States skipped the Moscow Games -- but she didn't start rowing herself until her freshman year of high school at Winsor in Boston. Her earliest desires to be a doctor go back a year earlier.

Until she began rowing for her mother, who was the coach of the Wildcats, Stone was a swimmer and played the typical team sports for a teenager.

"They let me play soccer and lacrosse even though I was horrible at them," Stone said. "Rowing was much more natural than soccer and lacrosse."

She parlayed success into a spot on the team at Princeton, where she graduated in 2007, and a shot at the 2008 Summer Olympics. She decided to put medical school on hold for a year while she tried to qualify in the quad scull for Beijing. She came up short and enrolled at Tufts University in Medford, Mass.

The first two years of any Olympic cycle are less grueling. Stone, who goes by the nickname "Gevvie," would practice once a day while taking classes. When it was time to gear back up for the 2012 Olympics, Tufts gave her leeway. Stone was starting to peak as a single sculler. She decided to take two years off from med school.

Stone won the Head of Charles Regatta (HOCR) in Boston in the fall of 2008, 2010 and 2011 leading into London. She's won the HOCR three more times since, including the past two.

"I told my med school it was a one-time thing. I want to go to London," Stone said. "And then I came back to them and London and was like, 'Actually, it's a two-time thing.'

"I don't think they'd appreciate it if I came back and said, 'It's a three-in-a-lifetime thing.'"

So after the summer, she'll step away from the sport while she's still in her prime. She'll be 31 by the time the Rio games are underway -- nine years younger than the oldest women's singles competitor in 2012 -- and her performance so far at Benderson has her in strong position to earn a spot on the U.S. team by winning the trials Sunday. Her time of 7 minutes 40.38 seconds on Friday was the fastest of the day.

"It's hard to stop. I'm still getting faster," Stone said. "Physiologically, I could still do it, theoretically."

She needed this summer to be her final shot, so she could wrap up her degree last year and get started on her future as an orthopedic surgeon. She spent the past summer as a research assistant.

Now, she'll try to leave the sport by making a bit of history. No American woman has ever finished higher than second in single sculls at the Olympics. One of the two is Michelle Guerette, who won a silver medal in 2008 and trained at Cambridge Boat Club -- same as Stone. She gets a reminder every time she loads her boat onto its rack in Cambridge, Mass. It's the same spot Guerette had.

"It's a small world," Stone said.

David Wilson, Herald sports writer, can be contacted at 941-745-7057 or on Twitter @DBWilson2.

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