There are uncertainties about mitigating strategies for swimming-related activities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is an opportunity to learn from the experience of previous re-openings to better plan the future one. Our objectives are to systematically review the evidence on (1) the association between engaging in swimming-related activities and COVID-19 transmission; and (2) the effects of strategies for preventing COVID-19 transmission during swimming-related activities.
We conducted a rapid systematic review. We searched in the L·OVE (Living OVerview of Evidence) platform for COVID-19. The searches covered the period from the inception date of each database until April 19, 2021. We included non-randomized studies for the review on association of COVID-19 transmission and swimming-related activities. We included guidance documents reporting on the strategies for prevention of COVID-19 transmission during swimming-related activities. We also included studies on the efficacy and safety of the strategies. Teams of two reviewers independently assessed article eligibility. For the guidance documents, a single reviewer assessed the eligibility and a second reviewer verified the judgement. Teams of two reviewers extracted data independently. We summarized the findings of included studies narratively. We synthesized information from guidance documents according to the identified topics and subtopics, and presented them in tabular and narrative formats.
We identified three studies providing very low certainty evidence for the association between engaging in swimming-related activities and COVID-19 transmission. The analysis of 50 eligible guidance documents identified 11 topics: ensuring social distancing, ensuring personal hygiene, using personal protective equipment, eating and drinking, maintaining the pool, managing frequently touched surfaces, ventilation of indoor spaces, screening and management of sickness, delivering first aid, raising awareness, and vaccination. One study assessing the efficacy of strategies to prevent COVID-19 transmission did not find an association between compliance with precautionary restrictions and COVID-19 transmission.
There are major gaps in the research evidence of relevance to swimming-related activities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the synthesis of the identified strategies from guidance documents can inform public health management strategies for swimming-related activities, particularly in future re-opening plans.