Let’s see some swimming! And more swimming! And then more swimming!!!!!
It’s time for prefecturals! Everyone battles in the same races as last year, for the exception of Makoto, who adds the 200m Freestyle to his schedule, and Sousuke, who decides not to participate in any individual race. Momotarou takes part in the backstroke, and the rivalry between each school is fierce; however, except for Rin in the butterfly, everyone in Samezuka ends up losing against Iwatobo as they all make it to nationals.
I didn’t particularly mind seeing everyone battle it out finally, even if the episode consisted almost solely of swimming competitions. The swimming competitions in Free! are always cool, and to see both schools fend off and then witness Iwatobi come out as a winner almost every single time made me happy. Considering that last year none of them even qualified, it really shows the improvement of the team in general, and makes me believe that they might have a chance at the nationals… Maybe? Who knows.
It was also fun to see a little bit more of Makoto and Haru, who’ve been shadowed by all the other characters quite a bit so far. This time, we managed to get some clear bonding time between the two, as well as getting to see more of Haru’s clear advantage over everyone else. We already knew that he was fast, but after a year of practice it really showed to see him suddenly ace everyone else and be clearly faster than everyone else. He definitely has the potential to go pro, and now all we need is for him to get the motivation to do it; hopefully Sousuke can help him with that.
If I have to be disappointed by something in this episode, it is the lack of Sousuke appearances compared to everyone else. Since he wasn’t swimming in any individual competition (probably because no one else would stand a chance), he was only in the background and we didn’t get to see much of him. We did have more Momotarou screen time though, especially with his brother (Seeing both ogling Gou in the same way was hilarious), but overall the focus was clearly put on Haru and Makoto this episode.
Overall, this was a pretty intense episode, showcasing what the show is really about (I mean, all other episodes this season were kinda just filler until prefecturals happened), and it was really interesting to see the competitive flair about everyone; and mostly, it was awesome to see Iwatobi Swim Club win it all.