Swish Cariboom From VRDL

Remember in our last few entries, we mentioned we had a derby guest we want to introduce to everyone? Well, we apologise for the delay as we have been busy preparing for our 20-week training programme that kick-started yesterday at *Scape! We had a great turnout and saw many new faces at our 1st session, so we are excited to see who survives till the end to finally be bout-ready.

Anyhoo, here this awesome and really fun lady who rocked at one of our Krav Maga self-defense sessions. She didn’t know what she was getting herself into but she stayed till the very end and had a blast. It was a great pleasure having you Swish, you were a sport! Next time, on the rink!

Real Name: Sandra Lahai O’Connor
Derby Name: Swish Cariboom
Derby Number: 138
Age: 25

Tell us about yourself?

I’m a Third Culture Kid (half Irish half Malaysian, grew up in Oman, The Netherlands twice, Malaysia twice, Singapore, The Philippines and am now living in Australia) and a soul-sex middle child, which they say come with their complexes. I like: sandwiches, drumsticks, sambal balacan, aquariums, adrenaline and body bridges. I don’t like: anchovies, cockroaches, foot cramps, waking up early and underwear bigger than the pants you’re wearing, come on.

How and When did you get the derby fever?

It was totally serendipitous, the only exposure I’d had to derby before signing up was ages prior when someone mentioned she played. I used to do aerial (circus fun like lira, cloud swing and tissue) before moving to Melbourne, so was actually looking up classes in that before discovering an upcoming derby intake. Not sure exactly when it clicked, but it’s been almost 3 years and I’m still here.

Who do you skate with and tell us about your league.

I skate with the Victorian Roller Derby League in Melbourne. I’m currently on the All Stars travel team roster (yay!) and have played on home teams the Dolls Au-Go-Go and Toxic Avengers. We’re WFTDA apprentices – we’ve already had one WFTDA sanctioned bout against the Hotrod Honeys from Texas and have another game against the Rat City Roller Girls from Seattle soon. The league’s given me so many opportunities to play competitively, not just against US and Aus leagues, but in every home bout and weekly scrimmage. I’m surrounded by some of the most powerful, inspiring and determined people I’ve ever met. I love knowing that that isn’t something unique to VRDL, you see that derby wide.

What do you do outside of derby?

Web admin and graphic design butters my bread, but work is pretty meaningless right now. I read a lot of popular science and layman’s astronomy tickles my pickle no end. I have two free range dwarf bunnies who I pat lots and they still make my heart swell after several years. I watch buttloads of movies with my film geek boyfriend, today’s recommendations are Argneto’s Tenebrae, Kubrick’s Paths of Glory and Super with Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page. Enjoy!

What would be your favourite derby sound track?

Anything by the Pixies (Caribou + boom = Cariboom). “We are 138” by the Misfits would be good for a jam. Been getting pumped by the Akira soundtrack lately too.

Worst/Best thing about derby?

Injuries are soul crushing, especially when skating becomes an addiction. I broke my ankle and was off skates for 4 months at the end of 2010. However, coaching is one of my favourite things about derby so I kept that up while injured. Gearing up for the first time after recovering was a really special moment.

How has derby changed your life?

I’m introverted and emotionally distant at the best of times. Playing a team sport has given me a whole new level of communication, the track is this safe place where I can trust and connect with people. I can still be pretty closed off, but I don’t need to feel bad or lonely about it. Nothing’s ever motivated me as consistently as derby has, the influence is overwhelming it’s hard to put my finger on it.

How did you find out about CPDG?

Read an article about you in Hit and Miss (an Australian derby magazine) by Notorious E.V.E. (also of VRDL). Was stoked to find out there was a league in the country where I spent my formative teenage years, ah how different that awkward period could have been with some solid female role models. I’m on holiday so couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet some of the extended family.

Tell us about your Krav Maga experience.

I need my exercise disguised as fun, so it was awesome and the chaps were great – thanks so much for having me! Loved the tips on surprise, like not staring obviously at the part of the body you plan to hit, attacking mid-sentence, non-telegraphic strikes. I think Krav Maga would go well with parkour. I envisage punching an attacker in the throat then scaling a wall and escaping by rooftop.

Any advice to all the fresh meat out there?

Quality knee pads and gaskets are a good idea. There is no end goal in derby, just a constant elaboration of technique. So enjoy the journey and savour each accomplishment, whether it’s nailing out that extra push up or just taking a bad session in your stride. And for muff’s sake don’t apologise, you have as much right to be on the track as anyone else.

Anything else you wanna tell the world?

We are all connected
To each other, biologically
To the earth, chemically
To the rest of the universe atomically
– Neil deGrasse Tyson


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