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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The athletic performance at sea level of middle altitude dwelling girls Zeller, Janet Marianne Ringham


With the consideration of extending track competition for girls of a middle altitude community to include the sea level valley nearby, the problem for this investigation evolved. The main question to be answered was, "Is the athletic performance of young female athletes, native to middle altitude, impaired when performing at sea level?" Subsidiary problems of the relationship of partial pressure of oxygen to performance, and microhematocrit changes in the subjects were also studied. Eight females between the ages of 12 and 14 participated in this experiment having eight treatments. Four treatments were at sea level and four were at middle altitude. Each treatment included taking a fingertip blood sample for a microhematocrit reading, a 50 yard dash, a 440 yard dash, a softball throw and an 880 yard run. These events were to represent the assortment found at a track meet. Recordings were also made of temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and air pollution. It was hypothesized that; a) the denser air and increased gravitational pull at sea level cause impairment in throwing and short runs; b) with oxygen uptake reduced at altitude, the 880 yard run is faster at sea level than at middle altitude; c) if hematocrits are in the upper portion of the normal range for sea level, the resultant increase in the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood does not improve sea level performance. The findings indicated that physical training and learning progressed markedly from the start of the experiment to the finish, The only significant altitude effect was found in the 50 yard dash with times being faster at sea level. It is doubtful that this was a result of the change in altitude, more likely, conditions other than barometric pressure were responsible for the differences found at the two testing locations. Wind disadvantage and insufficient warm-up more likely accounted for slower times at altitude. Superior performances occurred in warm weather, and when subjects were psychologically peaked indicating that warm-up and psychological climate may be more important to performance than the change of altitude that was employed. Hematocrits remained within normal ranges for middle altitude dwelling females throughout the experiment. Therefore, a coach of healthy young athletes from middle altitude should have no unusual concerns for competition at a related sea level environment. Concerns should be only those normally attended to at all competitions.

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