STAMFORD, Conn. Alex Stein loves to race. The Stamford woman used to do it on the track for Westhill High School, and now she does it in a boat as the coxswain for the Adaptive Four team that will compete for the United States in the World Championships beginning Aug. 28 in Bled, Slovenia.
"Track helped me a lot with the racing mentality and the competitive mentality,'' said Stein, who competed as hurdler for Westhill track coach Ed Lane . "Competing in track and rowing really aren't that much different."
When Stein neared the end of her high school career in 2002, Lane asked whether she planned to continue running. When she said no, he encouraged her to try rowing. She made the team at Dartmouth and flourished. She spent three years as a cox for the women's team and her junior year as the cox for the lightweight men's team. In her senior year, she helped Dartmouth beat Radcliffe, the women's team at Harvard, for the first time in more than a decade.
"I think being an athlete made me curious about the stroke,'' Stein said. "I was focused on the technique. I think part of that is because I was a hurdler, where technique is also important. Being curious about the technical aspect was a good thing for me when I became a coxswain."
Stein graduated from Dartmouth in 2006 and has stayed involved in rowing through the Norwalk River Rowing Association and Greenwich Crew . She earned her seat on the U.S. team earlier this year in trials at Charlottesville, Va. Andrew Johnson of Greenwich is a member of her crew, returning for his third year of competition.
The World Championships serve as the boat's most critical opportunity to qualify for the Paralympic Games in London 2012. Find out more about adaptive rowing here. Stein is the only member of her crew without a physical limitation.
Stein could not pursue her dream without the support of her employer, GE Capital. When she told her supervisors she would need nine weeks off to attend training and the games, they did not flinch. "They were so supportive,'' Stein said. "They said this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I'm grateful to have them behind me."
The last part of the puzzle for Stein will be to bring home a medal from the world championships. The U.S., with Johnson as part of the team, finished sixth at the world championships last year. Stein is the only new member of the crew.
It will help that she will have a large number of Fairfield County rowers pulling for her at the meet. Besides Johnson, Norwalk's Dan Walsh, Rowayton's Brian De Regt, New Canaan's Charlie Cole and Andrew Campbell and Weston's Nick LaCava will race in the world championships.
"I'm just excited to participate and work with some great athletes,'' Stein said. "This is a great opportunity."
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