A first-hand account of preseason

True colors of MIHS swim - A first-hand account
of preseason
by Gennie Gebhart
Special to the Reporter
It's the fourth week of August, and the Mercer Island High School girls swim and dive team is already in
full preparation mode for the upcoming fall season. With two-a-day workouts, it's been a busy two
weeks of training, but not all of the team's time is spent in the pool swimming endless sets. The
swimmers' time between practices has been filled with a team picnic, a lake swim from Clarke Beach to
the Beach Club, a fund-raising car wash, and, of all things, a three-hour meeting on personality types?
The team of more than 70 swimmers met in Coach Jeff Lowell's classroom at the school last Friday
evening after practice to discuss teamwork, communication and different personality types. Using a
program called ``True Colors,'' Lowell is helping the athletes gain a better understanding of themselves
and communicating with others to create a productive and close team.
The basic theory behind True Colors is simple: to understand human beings, one must understand that all
human beings have different needs, motives, and frustrations, as well as different ways of analyzing,
understanding, and learning. While these differences may seem random at first, past psychological
studies, such as the work of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and David Keirsey in his book ``Please
Understand Me,'' have shown that this vast variation isn't accidental. Human personalities can be divided
into four basic types. In the True Colors program, they're referred to with colors: Green, Blue, Orange,
and Gold.
According to True Colors, everyone has each color type in their personality, some colors shining more
brightly than others. This combination of colors makes up one's personality `spectrum,' with each color
embodying valuable characteristics and traits of the human spirit.
Me? I learned that I'm primarily Green. Greens value intellectual competency and facts, and find
challenges and accuracy essential. They excel in problem-solving, can't stand rules or unclear goals, and
are some of the most confident people you'll ever meet. Greens are the visionaries, the thinkers, the
Those with primarily Blue personalities are the natural romantics. The textbook Blue is a people person
who, unlike a Green, values feelings and interpersonal relationships more than theories and knowledge.
Ever-empathetic, a Blue would always take into account the feelings of everyone involved when making
a decision.
An Orange personality, however, would make that decision on an impulse. Oranges are spontaneous,
independent, and living in the here and now. Being on time is difficult for an Orange person, while
finding the adventure and fun in any situation is their second nature. Your typical Orange loves spending
money, and lots of it.
On the other hand, a Gold would put that money right into their savings account. One of my best friends
is a Gold, and not only is she the most loyal friend I have, she's never been late to anything. Movies at
8:00? She'll be calling at 6:00 to get things organized. Golds like her are perfectionists who rejoice in
structure and hold on tight to traditions.
But it isn't as simple as finding the color that best fits you. As with anything, you can have too much of a
good thing.
When one color shines too brightly, it's not pretty. It's glaring. Remember my friend, the Gold? While I
love her punctuality and consistency, both of which are areas in which I, as a Green, am lacking, it gets
annoying when she's pestering me all day to be on time to the theater. This same flip-flop could take
place in a Blue. There's no one you'd want by your side more in a hard time, but let's be honest;
sometimes they can be a little too emotional.
Herein lies where knowing oneself is crucial to understanding the way True Colors and other personality
assessment techniques helps you interact with others; different situations will call for consciously
switching between colors traits. Being able to make that jump will lead to less misunderstandings, more
cooperation, and, most importantly for a swim team, the ability to focus on the group's goal.
Although swimming is generally seen as an individual sport, Lowell constantly stresses the importance
of the team. He reminds his athletes that ``individuals win races, but teams win championships.'' And a
team that wins a championship is going to need to be able to understand each other. While we may be
swimming individually in races, we're all practicing together every day, with up to ten girls in a lane.
And the lanes aren't organized by color type.
Each girl's enhanced knowledge of personalities will go a long way in building the team in and out of the
pool. Because of what I learned with True Colors, I know that if I'm on a relay with a Gold, I'll need to
be ready at the blocks long before our event is called, or else she'll get stressed and it will affect our
whole relay's performance. And if I'm swimming in an event right after another Green, I'll be sure to
congratulate her on her time specifically; we're really into the numbers. And maybe a conflict later in the
season will force me to miss a practice. I know that Coach Lowell takes these absences personally
because of his primarily Blue and secondarily Gold personality, so I'll make it a priority to tell him in
advance why and when I'll be absent.
Coincidentally, swim team co-captains Natalie Scott, Katie Stadius, and Melissa Taylor are all primarily
Orange. What does that mean for the team? ``For sure we're going to have a fun season,'' Stadius
enthusiastically commented, ``but to keep us organized, we're going to need some of Jeff's Gold.''
And so the teamwork begins.
Gennie Gebhart is an aspiring writer and a sophomore at MIHS on the girls varsity swim team.
Copyright © 2005 Horvitz Newspapers, Inc.