The smell of a pool reminds me of why I love swimming. It's true that smell brings memories more than anything else. When I smell bleach I think about the first time I qualified for districts, the last swim meet as a senior, my favorite drills, the best workouts, and my good friends.
Is it similar for other sports? If you smell high school gym, do you think of volleyball? Smelling grass makes you think of football?
Whenever think about the start in swimming, I get goosebumps.
When you step up on the blocks, it's LOUD. People are yelling, screaming, cheering. Add the rushing of your blood as your heart pumps frantically, and you have a hard time hearing anything.
As soon as the starter tells you to take your marks, it quiets and you can only hear murmuring.
As soon as you hear the beep (or gun), your mind goes blank until you're in the cool water, which is totally silent.
Before you break the surface, you are in a surreal world. The water feels good, and you can sense your propulsion through the water on your arms and legs. You're in a half world at that point. You can't hear anything but the rushing of water over your ears and are focused entirely on your kick.
Once you break the water, the world gets loud again with the sound of people, water, and your own thoughts telling you to go faster, reach farther, kick harder.
THAT is what I miss about swimming. I miss the coolness, the jitters, the turns and the finish.
If I ever make it to Beijing, I'm swimming in the Water Cube. I don't care how expensive it is; I want to swim in the same water as Natalie Coughlin, Peter van ded Hoogenbam, and Michael Phelps.