It's amazing that in 2017 people still believe in aerobic base. Although, I guess when you compare this to people believing the earth is flat, the belief that you can magically hold on to a training effect for months or even years of de-training sounds fairly innocent.
Witness this interview from the most likable person in swimming, Elizabeth Beisel:
Beisel returned from months away and can still swim a pretty slick 400 IM. She credits the "base" of her training from years of high volume work with both Chuck Batchelor of Attleboro Bluefish and Gregg Troy at Florida for her continued ability to put up solid times in an endurance event.
All credit due to both men, who coached Beisel to a long stretch of outstanding, world class swimming. I have never met Troy, but I have met Chuck Batchelor. He is a wonderful guy who has done a lot to raise the standard of what was quite a depressing LSC prior to his arrival.
But Beisel's claims are very tame when it comes to some of the whoppers I've heard about aerobic base. I've heard at various times over the years how a strong "base" was key to Tom Jager's 50 freestyle performances in the 1980s, or basically any older swimmer that hardly trains and can still reproduce best times or near best times.
When I myself produced a best time in a 100 training three times a week and roughly 1000 yards a practice (at age 27), many people told me it must be due to my "base" even though it had been five years since I had done anything that was then considered "aerobic" training in swimming
To me, these performances say far more about how far we have yet to get with the sophistication of swim training systems. The fact that there is such a relatively small dip in performance from an athlete like Beisel, or any number of post-collegiate athletes after months of de-training indicates to me that the training is not making as big of a difference as we would like.
I don't believe in magic, and I don't believe in training adaptations that last forever. As far as we've come in swimming, there is an incredible level of performance waiting for us in the future if we embrace how primitive the methods we have for improving swimmers are right now.
Do you want to try and swim faster, practicing less time than you do now? Write me