Competitive Swimming Setback for 9-Year-Old


My nine year old son appears to be having panic attacks in the water at swim meets. He has been swimming since he was 2 and has been competitive since he was 6. He was the only 7 year old to qualify for the state swim championships in 2020 and placed 3rd in the 10 and under as an 8 year old this past summer. He usually loves swimming and competition but since moving up a group he says he feels pressure to win. He seems to be diving in and if he’s behind at all says he panics and just kinda treads water. He says he can’t breath and finishes the race with his head above water. Swimming has been such a source of joy for him and now he doesn’t want to do the meets. He still loves practice. My question is do I teach him to do hard things by dropping him off at the meet, even if he is upset and crying or do I help him work through this and take some time off meets (practice is a non negotiable unless he is doing another sport) until he has overcome his panic and he wants to race?

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