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Rei finally learns how to swim and the boys go shopping for new suits.  Here’s hoping the pace starts to pick up for Free!

I say this episode has less realism than previous episodes because Rei’s attempts at swimming probably wouldn’t go quite as badly in reality as they did in this episode.  This isn’t to say that it’s impossible for someone to be swimming and sink without any forward motion whatsoever.  It’s just that, on the rare occasions that it does happen, it usually happens to a young child who’s learning to swim.  It’s also slightly convenient that he was finally able to swim when he tried the butterfly, the last stroke the team needed in order to form a relay.

Even though this episode strays from realism in that way, there are still quite a few realistic parts.  The explanations Makoto gives of the training regimen are accurate, as is the coaching both Makoto and Nagisa give Rei while trying to teach him to swim.  The regimens Gou gives to the team are both pretty close to what a swim team would use for practice in reality.  I really like the fact that Free! takes the time to explain all the technical aspects of the sport, including the practices/training, for people who aren’t familiar with it.

Another aspect of this anime that I find fascinating is the fact that it keeps surprising me.  I didn’t expect that at all coming into it.  I figured a sports anime would be pretty predictable, full of competition between a couple of characters and that’s about it.  On the contrary, it really does keep surprising me.  I was shocked by the fact that Rin had won the race between him and Haruka, mostly because of Rin’s reaction to it.  I was surprised when it was revealed that Rei doesn’t know how to swim.  And this episode surprised me when Haruka’s coaching didn’t help Rei learn to swim any better that the others’ coaching.  I hope Free! continues to surprise me throughout the season, because that’s something I really enjoy about it.

I’d like to make a brief comment on the swimsuit-shopping scene.  I’m personally very happy to see one of these kinds of scenes involving guys.  Since every harem out there these days seems to want to have a swimsuit-shopping scene to show of the girls’ bodies, I think it’s nice to see the flip side of showing off guys’ bodies in this way.  If nothing else, it definitely made fangirls excited.

Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club Episode 5 Preview

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