Splash Island provides indoor thrills
Thursday, January 12, 2012 10:00 PM by Steve Slosarek
Eighteen seconds is all it took to discover one of the best indoor winter activities in Hendricks County. Eighteen seconds of pure joy, unadulterated thrills, sudden turns and tummy-tickling fun. Eighteen seconds of giddy shrieking, wide smiling, free-fall sliding and a suspenseful ending. The waterslide at Splash Island Indoor Aquatic Center in Plainfield sure got my heart beating in a hurry. As a first-time visitor to the indoor portion of the Plainfield Recreation and Aquatic Center, I didn't know what to expect. The reputation of the 3.1-acre outdoor Splash Island Family Waterpark next door is well known. But it's January. Outdoors was out of the question. My 12-year-old son and I entered the massive building -- passing the impressive basketball courts, running/walking track and fitness center -- to set our sights on the 20,000-square-foot indoor aquatic center. Usually reserved for water aerobics, swim classes and other programming, I soon discovered reservations can be made for birthday parties, and what better place for a winter party than this! The two-story, navy blue waterslide stood out like a beacon, but there were so many more amenities in the 5,742-square-foot leisure pool. We couldn't wait to try them, so we quickly changed into swim trunks in the nearby locker room. At zero-depth entry, we dipped into the warm water and headed toward a half-dozen fountains, which shot water at different angles like rhythmic rain beads against our heads and bodies. Some included a time-lapse feature that kept us guessing in mild trepidation. Basketball beckoned us, but not the hardwood variety. A large, floating basketball hoop was stationed nearby, so my son and I engaged in a few splash-filled games of horse. In the process of losing every game, I noticed a squadron of lifeguards. Impressively, they patrolled every inch of the perimeter, always in movement while peering into the pool. Needless to say, I felt safe. After swimming in the three lap lanes, we relaxed in the gentle winding river, letting the currents take us away. The river was therapeutic and liberating; my mind and body felt free. I gave my body more king treatment by luxuriating in the pulsating vortex before leaving the pool to rest on a lounge chair while my son kept swimming. I'm glad I saved up the energy, because it was high time to try the waterslide. An easy climb to the second-platform brought us to a lifeguard, who instructed each individual when to slide. As I accelerated down straightaways and five slippery loops, feelings of giddiness, happiness and boldness encompassed me all at once. I felt liberated from life's worries, unbridled from life's demands. I felt 12 years old again. The spontaneous derring-do was just what I needed to escape this wintry day. The twists and turns meant that I couldn't see the finish coming. With heavy anticipation, I plugged my nose for the inevitable. Sure enough, I zoomed off the slide, into the air and -- plop -- down into the water. My son plunged into the water seconds later. We hooted, hollered and high-fived. And, of course, we headed right back to do it again. And again. And again.