A skate way to travel

Words: Greer McNally Photography: Joe McGorty

On campus with Dariusz Duszynski (MSci Physics 2023, PhD in Laser Amplification for Plasma Experiments).

I’ve always been a skater – and for the longest time, Imperial was the only university in the country with its own skate society. It was a big draw for me. In my first week, I was able to meet people with the same hobby and by my third year I was the society president. We meet in Hyde Park and there’s a real sense of community.

The main thing I’m into is freestyle slalom. It’s like combining figure skating and dance battle. It involves equally spaced cones and you have a set amount of time to do your most impressive routine around them. At the other end of the skating spectrum, I also do speed skating. We’ve actually entered a couple of competitions while I’ve been here, and I ended up organising two of those.

The first was the Berlin skate marathon, which is exactly as it sounds – a marathon but on inline skates that happens two days after the Berlin Marathon. It’s great fun and takes you past all the landmarks. The other one was in Le Mans. It’s a 24-hour relay race on the two days of the year when there isn’t any motorsport there. It was a fantastic experience.

We didn’t get on the podium, but we placed higher than some of the other teams in their matching outfits, with their on-site massages. We were very proud of ourselves!

Inline skating is actually one of the two reasons I chose Imperial. The Outreach science labs, a STEM potential programme that introduces schoolchildren to the idea of attending university, was the other. It’s typically for kids from backgrounds who aren’t likely to go on to higher education.

I was encouraged to take part in it when I was at school, and it changed my life for the better. I wanted to do the same for other kids like me, so now I volunteer with the Outreach labs. I love showing them that there’s this really cool, different life out there that they didn’t think they could access.

One of my favourite experiments is when I make a superconductor levitate above a magnet. There are always oohs and aahs. You can grab a piece of paper and show there’s no strings attached. The kids love it and it’s nice to see them happy with the real physical explanation. Just as I was when I was in their shoes.