Trouble breathing at OW swim start

I can't be the only person with this issue.  About 2 minutes into an open water start I experience extreme difficulty breathing.  I go into extreme anxiety/panic to the point that I have to stop and tread water to calm down.  This has been occurring more frequently in the pool as well even to a point where I have to get out for the day.  Most of the time it will go away after 10 minutes depending on how persistent I am but I feel there is a relative level of danger when this is occurring.   It doesn't matter what the water temp is, it will happen in a race even after I'm warmed up, pre-workout/caffeine made it worse (don't take it anymore), and I am almost guaranteed it will happen in an OW race.  I am an experienced swimmer of 40 years, competitive my entire life, and this just started in 2014.  I was out of the water from 2016- December 22.   

At this point I don't know what to do.  My primary care shrugs his shoulders like an idiot and says "well don't swim".   This can't be sipe because it goes away while I am still swimming and I definitely wouldn't be able to forge through this many occurrences.   It's beyond frustrating. I swam an OW race last weekend that lasted 1hr 40 min.  From 6 minutes to 16 minutes I fought this to a point that I was feeling on the edge of a medical emergency.  16 minutes!!  I completely removed myself from any chance of competing, I can't make that time up.  The anxiety surrounding it was so bad I even put my life in order and had everything set up for my family in case something happened.  

What are others experiencing with this?  How do we get over it? Swimming is my only outlet so I need to find a solution.  

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