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Free! finally gives us a swim meet!  Or, well, part of one.  To be continued next episode.

In this episode we finally get some specific backstory about Rin.  It’s nice to know that his reasons for wanting to beat Haruka involve more than just pride.  He wants to accomplish the goal his father never could, which is a noble sentiment.  I think he feels a little responsible for the fact that his father didn't make it to the Olympics because he decided to have a family.

Nitori finally gets a bit of characterization in the show, which is nice.  I know a lot of people out there (fangirls especially) are going to be talking about how Nitori obviously has a crush on Rin, and that’s why he reacts the ways he does in this episode.  I’d like to take a moment to say that he could, instead, see Rin as a role-model and give him a lot of respect for that, which could explain his reactions as well.  We don’t all have to jump to the conclusion that he’s in love or anything.  (Nothing against shippers, of course, I’m just pointing this out.)

I love the fact that Rei wants to swim in a relay with his teammates.  It’s such a huge difference from the person who originally wanted nothing to do with the swim club to now want nothing more than to work together with them.  Another aspect that Rei brings forth in this episode, too, is the fact that he’s nervous about the tournament.  I think it’s important to show that, because nerves definitely play into sporting events, and I think that’s something that gets downplayed a lot in really any form of popular culture about sports.  While Rei’s nerves aren’t the focal point of the episode, the fact that they’re included at all is commendable.

I hope I’m not the only one who’s under the impression that Haruka let Rin win that race, too.  Somehow I don’t think he’d have been as far behind in the first leg if he’d really been trying to win.  But I think this is obvious mainly because of his reaction to Rin’s arrogance and coldness after the race.  He wanted to let Rin beat him so that he didn’t have to swim for a purpose; he wants to be free.  But it’s also obvious that he cares about Rin and wants to swim with him more.

Well, obviously Haruka is still going to be able to swim in this tournament, based on the title of the next episode.  It looks like the Iwatobi boys will somehow manage to get into the medley relay, and I’ll make the guess right now that their team will win.  Which is going to piss Rin off enough that he’ll feel like he has to keep trying to beat Haruka.  Which will give him a reason to keep swimming with Haruka.  Which will give Free! a reason to keep going.

Free! Episode 8 Preview

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