Therapy Dogs Offer Stress-Reduction To U.S. Swimmers During Olympic Trials

Domesti-PUPS of Lincoln, Nebraska, provided 30 dogs during the Olympic qualifying event.

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USA Swimming enlisted the help of 30 therapy dogs to help calm nerves during the Olympic Trials in Nebraska. Via NBC Sports
John Virata

The Olympics represents the best athletes of each country participating. For American athletes, to get to the Olympics requires years of training and hard work, including competing in Olympic Trials to help determine who are best prepared to represent the country.

Those trials can be nerve-wracking, so USA Swimming decided to enlist the help of therapy dogs to help reduce the tremendous amount of stress that many swimmers endure during competition for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Swim Team, according to NBC Sports.

Morgan Weinberg, the programs and services manager of USA Swimming, enlisted the help of Domesti-PUPS, based in Lincoln, Nebraska, to bring 30 therapy dogs and their handlers to the Olympic Trials last June. The dogs, apparently, worked wonders for some of the athletes competing for a spot on the team.

Therapy Dogs


USA Swimming brought therapy dogs to #SwimTrials16 to help alleviate the stress of Olympic hopefuls.

Posted by NBC Olympics on Monday, June 27, 2016

“Therapy dogs can help boost morale and alleviate stress for the swimmers,” Weinberg told

The swimmers were given the option to hang out with the therapy dogs between heats, and many took advantage. Jeremy Parker, a 22-year-old competitive swimmer and first-time Olympic Trial participant, was one such athlete, according to “They help calm the nerves,” Parker told “(The Trials) are overwhelming.”

Michele Tafoya of NBC Sports spoke with several swimmers who told her the dogs kept them relaxed in part because the dogs were so happy.

“One competitor told her parents that she swam her best time after spending time with the dogs so she is planning to make that canine visit a regular part of her pre-swim routine,” Tafoya said.

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