The present study explored the sources of stress and coping strategies of five female first-year university swimmers. The results of group and individual interviews revealed the major sources of stress experienced by our participants were training intensity, high performance expectations, interpersonal relationships, being away from home, and academics. The participants utilized social support, emotional release, and humor/fun as their primary coping responses during the early part of their first year. As the year progressed, cognitive coping responses such as positive reinterpretation and task focus emerged. In addition, important people in the athletic context influenced the participants’ interpretation of stress. The results shed light on the dynamic nature of the coping process and offered support for the transactional model of stress and coping (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984).
The authors are with the Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL 32611. E-mail: Pgiacobbi@hhp.ufl.edu.