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Stress and Coping Among Adolescents Across a Competitive Swim Season

Meghan H. McDonough, Valerie Hadd, Peter R.E. Crocker, Nicholas L. Holt, Katherine A. Tamminen, and Kimberly Schonert-Reichl

This study qualitatively examined the congruence between anticipated and experienced stressors and coping, and approaches to coping by elite adolescent swimmers across a competitive season. Eight swimmers were interviewed before and after 4 swim meets in a season. Data collection and analysis were guided by theories of stress and coping. Accuracy of anticipating stressors was low, and the stressors and coping strategies were variable across the season. Idiographic profiles were created for each athlete and grouped according to similar characteristics. Three groups included athletes who (a) generally perceived stressors as something to be avoided, (b) generally perceived stressors as problems to be solved, or (c) generally perceived swimming as fun and minimally stressful. These patterns appeared to be associated with anticipating stressors, highlighting the complex and dynamic nature of stress and coping among adolescent athletes.