CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A new pet therapy is helping competitive swimmers in the Triangle take the edge off before big meets.
Teens from across the country are going head-to-head in the Blizzard Blitz Meet this weekend at the Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary.
The stakes are high and the competition is fierce, but a furry distraction is trying to put them at ease.
Rin, a therapy canine, is helping competitors stay calm and focused.
"They see the dog and they open up," said Lynn Rasmussen of Canines for Therapy. "They have one shot to do this, so if they can get rid of the tension but keep the energy up, they're going to perform better in that one opportunity."
Canines for Therapy offers well-trained dogs that volunteer in the community visiting people in places like hospitals, nursing homes and schools.
The Triangle Aquatic Center got the idea to bring in the canines following the summer Olympics.
"They actually did it in the ready-room in Rio this year," said director Katy Davis. "With big meets like this where the swimmers are trying to qualify and meet, they're able to reduce their anxiety by having the dogs visit."
The consoling canine is already a hit with swimmers.
"When you pet him, it's the greatest feeling," said Sara Ktron.
"It helps relieve the stress," said Nathan Pelt.
Brianna Garafolo said Rin is doing the trick for her, too.
"Before I saw the dog I was really stressed out, and then I saw the dog and I did really well in my next race," she said.
Read more about Canines for Therapy here.
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