LidburyProfessional triathlete, and half iron-distance expert, Emma-Kate ‘Eccles’ Lidbury signed with one of our scholarship ambassador supporters, Funkita, last year, so we hit her up for one of her favourite swim sessions, along with a few tips on how to improve your swimming. While Eccles’ main mission this year is to continue to excel at the half distance, she has also finally succumbed to the allure of a full iron-distance and will compete in her first one later this year. 

This set might actually qualify as both my most hated and my most loved session. It’s one of those sets you really love to hate, but if you hit it well it feels oh-so-great! Well, it still hurts like hell, but making it all the way through at least helps the pain subside a little at the end. Kind of…


Here in LA I swim with the Tower 26 swim team which is run by open water swim guru and coach Gerry Rodrigues. This set – dubbed “Limbo” – is one of his favourites. Having been swimming under Gerry’s watchful eye for a year now, I can safely say I’ve done this set a few times. It never gets any easier…



You will swim 10 swims at your distance. Depending on ability/speed, this could range from 200m to 150m. You begin on a 3-minute turnaround and with each repetition you knock five seconds off your interval. For example:

1st 200m: 3:00

2nd 200m: 2:55

3rd 200m: 2:50


All the way through to

9th 200m: 2:20

10th 200m: 2:15


The key to success in this set is to start out at an easy pace and keep your effort steady for as long as possible. By the business end of the set be prepared for the fact it might be “touch and go” in order to make the interval. If it is looking as though you are going to clearly miss the next turnaround, it is the responsibility of the lane leader to make the call on dropping a lap from your set distance. For example, if you almost miss the 8th rep on a 2:25 interval, you might decide to drop to swimming 175m on numbers 9 and 10 in order to make the turnaround. Your call – but the aim is to make every interval. Enjoy your limbo!

Those who make it all the way through – and still have breath to do so at the end – are obliged to shout “LIMBO!” once completed.



Lidbury3Three top tips for faster swimming:


1.        It’s all about the process: Whether training or racing, if you can stay focused on the task at hand then you will perform infinitely better. As you swim, think about the physical act of swimming and stroke mechanics: what do you need to do to help you swim better, what are your stroke limiters? Keep these on a loop in your head and repeat them to yourself as you swim. This is especially worthwhile when performing high intensity sets in training or when racing. If you focus too greatly on splits, position or what others are doing you are not concentrating on the things most pertinent to your optimal performance.


2.        Intensity: The trick to swimming fast is training fast. Unlike run and bike training where high intensity workouts cause greater residual fatigue, it is possible – and critical – to add an element of high intensity work to EVERY swim session. Impact on the body is little to zero and the aerobic benefits transfer across into biking and running. If your swim workouts consist largely of drills and slow, steady repeats you will never see improvements. Train fast to swim fast. Even on recovery days it is highly advisable to finish a session with some short sprints. Do not be afraid to do work in the pool!


3.        Open Water Skills: If you always swim in a pool and simply migrate to open water a few weeks before your first race and then expect to perform well you are putting yourself at an immediate disadvantage. Swimming in open water could not be more different and, like any other skill, it requires practice to improve. You should build open water practice into your pool swimming all year round. This can include:

  • Sighting (try looking for a fixed point at either end of the pool every six strokes);
  • Paceline work (a four-strong group swims on each other’s feet and takes turns to lead and draft).
  • Deck ups: Exit the pool at the deep end and dive back in, e.g. swim an 800m with exit and re-entry after every 100m


photo2Click on the image (left) to head to Eccles’ website or jump on twitter







FUNKITA-HIGH-RES-JPEG Click on the image (left) to check out  Funkita’s latest range.

About The Author

Stef Hanson. Chief.

Chief and founder of WITSUP

Serious about what I do, but don’t take myself too seriously

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