Sippy Woodhead, who took the freestyle route to five Pan American Games gold medals in Puerto Rico, used different strokes in a different atmosphere to win three golds in today's opening competition at the National Sports Festival.

The 15-year-old California won the 200-meter butterfly and the 400-meter individual medley, then swam a 2:04.84 anchor to bring her West team from behind to victory in the 800-meter freestyle relay.

Air Force swimmers have posted signs to intimidate opponents at their 7,250-foot-high facility, such as "7,250 - Breathe Deep" and "The Air Is Rare." Woodhead has been here before for training, but she is far from accrimated.

"It's wierd," she said of the altitude's effects. "In the 400 IM I felt real good and then on the second leg $&(WORD ILLEGIBLE $&)See FESTIVAL, C5, Col. 1> $&(WORD ILLEGIBLE $&)FESTIVAL, From C1> of the breaststroke (third of four strokes) it really hit me. You want to stop at the wall and start breathing."

The West and Midwest dominated the swimming, after Bonnie Glasgow of Glen Arm, Md., captured the opening event, the 200-meter freestyle. Her time was 2:06.21, far off Woodhead's world record of 1:58.43, and times generally were not noteworthy.

Jim Halliburton of Bloomington, Ind., won the men's 100-meter butterfly, with Pat Murtash of Fairfax, Va., third. Fifth was Bruce Furniss, double gold medalist at Montreal.

Andy Lachman of Rockville, Md., was fourth in the men's 400-meter individual medley; Judy Klotz of Potomac, Md., was sixth in the women's 400 IM and Beth Cuddeback of Rockville, Md. and Caroline Barbour of Columbia, Md., were sixth and eighth, respectively, in the women's 200-meter butterfly.

Theresa DiMarino of Alexandria, Va., and Nancy Leahy of Camp Springs, Md., won their qualifying heat of the senior women's double kayaks. The final is Sunday.

Jackie Cassello of Silver Spring, Md., shared fourth place in the all-around gymnastics competition after today's team event. Tracee Talavera, age 12, was the overall leader. Cassello was second in valuting and tied for fourth in floor exercises.

Gary Berliner of Falls Church, Va., was third in the 156-pound judo competition and Ron Crawley of Washington placed third in 56-kilo weightlifting.