Mary Jones didn't have to think long about how she would train for trying to qualify for the 2017 World Rowing Championships when she moved to Boston last spring. She just picked up the phone and called Olympic medalist Gevvie Stone.
"My husband has a job up here, and after trials I moved up to be with him," Jones recalled. "I was trying to get situated into the Boston rowing community and Gevvie had done some training with us in Austin the winter before Olympic trials, so when I got to town I called her."
Stone might have been deep into preparing for her Olympic silver medal performance in the single at the Rio Games last summer, but she as welcoming. During Stone's entire time in the single during the last two Olympic cycles, she spent most of her time training with a group of masters men from the Cambridge Boat Club.
Jones was welcome to join, Stone told her.
"I asked her if she would mind if I jumped into workouts with her as she was getting ready for the Olympics last year," said Jones. "She was really nice and let me come out and do some workouts with her and the masters men she has been working out with the past several years."
Following Rio, Stone stepped away from international competition to begin her medical career and residency. But Jones, who has taken aim at the Tokyo Olympics and the women's lightweight double, decided the best place for her to start that process was in the single in the Cambridge masters group - which Stone still joins in regularly.
"It's a great group of guys," Jones said. "Everyone is so supportive. They all have great rowing backgrounds and a wealth of rowing knowledge. I really enjoy it, and as Gevvie has trained less while she is in residency I stuck with the group.
"They're good sports, they come out and do all kinds of hard stuff with me, and they're full of energy; it's pretty amazing."
Jones has become a familiar sight on the Charles
At least two or three days a week, Jones and Stone and the masters men cruise up to the Charles River Basin and the 2k race course and do competitive race pieces against each other. The work has obviously paid off for Jones.
Jones trained at the Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia prior to the 2016 Olympic Trials and was in the mix for selection to the double that would compete for a place in Rio. She eventually missed out and rowed in an open weight double with Nichole Ritchie and finished second.
With that behind her, Jones switched to the lightweight women's single and won trials for the 2016 senior world championships for non-Olympic boat classes, where she finished fourth. This year, Jones continued her quest to row the lightweight single, winning the spring speed orders, and then traveled to Europe to compete in the Holland Bekker Regatta and World Rowing Cup II in Lucerne. She took silver at Holland Bekker and finished fifth in the World Cup.
"I decided really early on in the year that I was going to go for the lightweight single," Jones said explaining she felt it was the best place to start for the Tokyo cycle. "Looking at Tokyo, the first place to start with development is with myself, and where I can get in my own rowing and speed and power.
"So I decided I would spend the year in the single focusing on being the best rower I could be so I could be the best partner in the future. I committed to the single and pulled together all the resources I could find," she said. "I planned all along that, in the spring, if I was going fast enough I would get international race experience and see how I stacked up against other rowers internationally.
"In the span four or five weeks, I got in 11 2ks at pace against international competition, which is a fantastic amount of racing especially when it is so hard in the US to get any international experience before a world championships. I had good races and races I knew I could improve on, and from all that experience, I've just been trying to bring it into my training leading up to Sarasota and see if I can improve on where I was in Lucerne."
Keeping with her plan, Jones won senior trials and returned to Boston to row with - and against - Stone and the Cambridge masters men.
"They're great," she said. "They're encouraging on the water and off the water."
And as for racing an Olympic silver medalist:
"Gevvie keeps me honest. I have days where I'm feeling really fast and she comes out and shows me what fast really is. I can never get too comfortable because she's always showing up and beating my pants off. She keeps me honest. She keeps me working hard," she said.
"I always try to get closer to Gevvie, that's my goal. It's fun that we're both rowing in singles right now and in different boat classes, so there is no intimidation. We're both working hard."