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Sport Commitment in High School Swimming Open Access


Other title
high school
sport commitment
physical activity
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Larson, Heather K
Supervisor and department
Reade, Ian (Physical Education and Recreation)
Examining committee member and department
Mummery, Kerry (Physical Education and Recreation)
Berry, Tanya (Physical Education and Recreation)
Physical Education and Recreation

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
Introduction: High school swimming in Alberta is characterized by an emphasis on participation and inclusion regardless of ability level or competitive aspirations. For many students, this is their first meaningful exposure to the sport. The purpose of this study was to explore the potential of high school swimming programs as an avenue for increasing physical activity and sport commitment in less active adolescents. The following four areas were explored: the impact of high school swimming on participants’ physical activity levels, the relationship between sport commitment and physical activity, the determinants of sport commitment, and intentions for continued participation in swimming outside of high school. Methods: Forty-six participants were recruited from a high school swim team that was chosen for its stability, longevity, and success in attracting and retaining large numbers of swimmers. Participants’ physical activity levels were measured pre-season, mid-season, and post-season, using the Physical Activity Questionnaire for Adolescents (Kowalski, Crocker, and Kowalski, 1997). Mid-season, participants also completed a questionnaire measuring seven constructs from Scanlan, Carpenter, Schmidt, Simons, and Keeler’s (1993) Sport Commitment Model. Eight participants were also interviewed using the Scanlan Collaborative Interview Method (Scanlan, Russell, Wilson, & Scanlan, 2003). Results: Participants who were less active pre-season had significantly higher physical activity post-season. However, the relationship between sport commitment and mid-season or post-season physical activity was only significant for participants in Grade 12. Several constructs from the Sport Commitment Model were found to be important sources of commitment for these participants. Sport Enjoyment had the strongest positive relationship with commitment, followed by Valuable Opportunities and Personal Investments. Other Priorities had a significant negative relationship with commitment. After analysing interview data, Social Support, Desire to Excel, and Team Tradition were all determined to be important sources of strengthened commitment. The interview results also suggested that participants who joined the team without having any prior competitive swimming experience developed an appreciation for the sport and a desire to continue swimming outside of high school. Conclusions: High school swimming may have a positive impact on the physical activity levels of less active adolescents, and it certainly has potential for facilitating a long-lasting commitment to the sport of swimming. Other swim programs hoping to increase sport commitment in adolescents should recognize the importance of competent, caring coaches, encourage positive social interactions, provide opportunities for monetary investment, and foster team tradition.
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