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australian rowers profiles and history

Isobel Finch

Mercantile Rowing Club (VIC)

If, one year ago, you were to tell Isabel Finch she would be not only nominated, but a favoured choice to cox the Australian PR3 Coxed Four for the 2024 Paralympic Games, she might not have believed you.

As a child, Isabel had an abundance of natural charisma and energy to get stuck into whatever she got involved in. Prior to her career as a coxswain, she practiced musical theatre in Genazzano FCJ College, but it wasn’t until Year Eight in which a presentation given to her class on the sport of rowing caught her attention. 

Coxing with Genazzano immediately proved an exciting and rewarding endeavour for Isabel. The intangible but enticing challenge of co-ordinating, guiding and inspiring rowers to pursue perfection on and off the water provided her with the perfect outlet in which to channel her passion. Put simply, she relished the responsibility thrust upon the coxswain to conjure the correct energy to suit the crew, the quest to help the oarsman find the elusive perfect stroke.

Isabel wasn’t sure where her passion for coxing would take her after graduating high school. This was until Pete Somerville suggested that Mercantile Rowing Club, with it’s culture of high performance, excellence and above all else, teamwork, would be the perfect place for her to develop her skills further.

Fast-forward to the 2023 Australian National Rowing Championships at Champion Lakes in Perth, and Isobel and her crew have secured a silver medal in the Women’s Club Eight, an achievement she admits she is extremely proud of, and has given her a taste of success she doesn’t intend on forgetting any time soon.

National Championships 2023 with Isabel on the left hand side

On the back of the momentum of the National Rowing Championships, Isobel found herself coxing at a para-rowing camp held in Mercs that April, and encouraged by her coach Sam Fennessy, made the ambitious decision at the age of nineteen to nominate herself to be the coxswain for the PR3 Coxed Four of the Australian National Rowing Team. 

At the time writing this piece, Isabel is undergoing the rigorous selection process to secure the position, and a ticket to the 2024 Summer Paralympic Games held in Paris.

Speaking to Isabel, it is clear she is brimming with enthusiasm and hunger having been given this incredible opportunity at such an early stage in her coxing career, but the reality of the situation is not lost on her, and she is equally as humble and grateful for the position she has found herself in.

She is aware of the challenge that potentially lies ahead, and the unique way she has to seek improvements as a coxswain. Isabel cites the importance of seeking self improvement and demanding the best from yourself as a cox. Rowing in it’s essence is a simple sport. It rewards hard work, and the hours spent in the boat refining your technique, or taking the hammer and chisel to your aerobic system on the ergometer will always yield dividends.

The path to improvement as a coxswain isn’t as clear cut, it requires tenacity and a willingness to ask questions of yourself, your mannerisms, and to above all else, hold yourself accountable to lead and inspire a crew.

When asked about her ambitions for the future, one would expect to hear grandiose dreams of glory and rising to the top of her field as a coxswain, and whilst she may well have such plans at the back of her mind, Isabel insists she is taking each season at a time, and its obvious from her mannerisms that she is naturally gifted at living in the moment, and seizing each day and opportunity that comes her way.

Win at Australian University Championships in the lightweight Quad Scull

Known rowing record

2018 - Victorian Championships, Schoolgirl Year 9 Coxed Quad Scull, cox - Second

2018 - Head of the Schoolgirls, Schoolgirl Year 9 Coxed Quad Scull Div 2, cox

2019 - Victorian Championships, Schoolgirl Year 10 Quad, Div 1, cox

2019 - Head of the Schoolgirls, Schoolgirl Year 10 Quad, Div 1, cox - Fifth

2020 - Victorian Championships, Schoolgirl Eight Div 3, cox - Sixth

2020 - Head of the Schoolgirls, Schoolgirl Eight Div 3, cox - race cancelled due to COVID

2021 - Victorian Championships, Schooolgirl Eight, cox - Sixth

2021 - Head of the Schoolgirls, Schoolgirl eight Div 1 (Genazzano), cox - Sixth

2022 - Head of the Schoolgirls, Schoolgirl eight Div 1 (Genazzano), cox - Sixth

2023 - Victorian Championships, Women's Under 21 Coxed Four, cox - Fifth

2023 - National Championships, Women's Club Eight, cox - Silver

2023 - National Championships, Women's Under 21 Coxed Four, cox - unplaced

2023 - Invited to trial for the Australian PR3 Coxed Four

2023 - Australian University Championships (Monash University) Women's Lightweight Quad Scull, three seat - First

2023 - Australian University Championships (Monash University), Men's Eight and Mixed Eight, cox - Sixth and Fourth

Barry Connolly
December 2023


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