Eyes Wide Shut…With Maybe a Squint

Eyes Wide Shut - underwater with eyes shut

One thing I’ve never been able to do is open my eyes underwater. To this day, if my head gets submerged, my eyes shut tight. Someone once tried to get me to open them, but you know…I can be a bit stubborn.

I remember being in swim lessons when I was about six or seven, and this particular teacher wouldn’t let anyone use goggles. I went through the class okay for the most part. If I had to swim to the teacher, I’d just aim, push off the side, and go with my eyes closed. Same thing if we had to retrieve something from the bottom (shallow end) of the pool.

Then came the day when she had us swim to her—from the other side of the pool! When my turn came, I did what I’d done the whole time: aim, push off, and go with my eyes closed. I was good for a while and then, not knowing how far I’d gone, stopped. While treading water, I asked how far away my teacher was.

“Open your eyes,” she said.

“I can’t.” Every time I came up from having my head underwater, I had to rub the surrounding water away before I opened my eyes. If I didn’t, drops would fall in and sting them. But I couldn’t wipe them away because, at the time, I needed both my arms and legs to keep my head above water (and I couldn’t touch the bottom).

So, here I was stuck in the dark somewhere in the pool, calling for help, and all I get is, “Open your eyes,” over and over. She wasn’t coming. I had a general idea where she was based on her voice, but it wasn’t enough to be confident and start swimming…I could go off at an angle and wind up at the diving boards.

“Open your eyes!”

Having no other choice. I forced my eyes to open just the tiniest bit. Far away were two small blurs (my teacher and her assistant). I’d only gone about halfway. I swam and somehow miraculously made it to the other side.

Eyes Wide Shut - floating on water

That was about as close as anyone’s come to getting me to open my eyes underwater. I wish I could say that one day I tried and succeeded. Sadly, that is not the case. But I stay afloat with just my legs, now, so I can wipe the water away from my eyes as much as I want.

‘Til next time!


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