Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2021) 20, 714 - 720   DOI:

Research article
How Much the Swimming Performance Leading to Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Was Impaired Due to the Covid-19 Lockdown?
Mário J. Costa1,2, Nuno D. Garrido2,3, Daniel A. Marinho2,4, Catarina C. Santos1,2,4, 
Author Information
1 Department of Sport Sciences, Polytechnic Institute of Guarda, Guarda, Portugal
2 Research Center in Sports Sciences, Health Sciences and Human Development (CIDESD), Vila Real, Portugal
3 Department of Sport Sciences, Exercise and Health, University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal
4 Department of Sport Sciences, University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal

Catarina C. Santos
✉ Department of Sport Sciences, Polytechnic Institute of Guarda, Guarda, Portugal.
Publish Date
Received: 27-06-2021
Accepted: 23-08-2021
Published (online): 01-10-2021
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The aim of this study was to analyze the progression and stability in the performance of world-ranked swimmers from 2015 to 2020, and the impairment induced by the COVID-19 lockdown. An observational retrospective design over five consecutive competitive seasons was selected. FINA’s male Top-50 who were qualified for the Tokyo Olympic Games were considered in freestyle, backstroke, backstroke, and butterfly events. A total of 515 male swimmers and 2060 season-best performances were analyzed. All data was retrieved from two open-access and public websites (Swimrankings and Swimcloud). Repeated measures ANOVA followed by the Bonferroni post-hoc test was performed to analyze the variation between seasons. Stabilization in performance was assessed using spearman correlation coefficients. A significant improvement in performance ≈0.5-2.5% was found in most of the strokes and race distances until the 2018-2019 season. The 2020 lockdown impaired the performance by 1-2%. Moderate to high associations were found in the 2017-2018 season when considering the 2019-2020 performance. The breaststroke was the only stroke with a moderate-high stability (r > 0.40) in all race distances considering the overall time period. It can be concluded that world-ranked swimmers’ performance was impaired by 1-2% due to the COVID-19 lockdown, returning to levels that were reached two years earlier.

Key words: Stability, performance, swimmers, training cessation, COVID-19 lockdown

           Key Points
  • Swimming performance losses due to the lockdown were around 1-2%.
  • There was a setback in performance at levels near those reached in 2017-2018 season.
  • The breaststroke was the stroke with the highest stability in performance through the overall cycle.
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