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Man, I didn’t think the prefectural tournament would be split into three episodes!  Free! keeps us waiting for the exciting conclusion of the tournament.  Will the Iwatobi Swim Club advance to regionals?

I’m glad there’s a focus in this episode on the role of the teammates who aren’t participating in a given event.  Cheering for one’s teammate during a swim meet is incredibly helpful, even if whoever is swimming can’t necessarily hear it all the time while in the water.  Cheering increases energy and adds to the atmosphere; even if you can’t hear exactly what your teammates are saying while they’re cheering, the very fact that they’re rooting for you is enough to push you further than you thought you could go, like with any sport.

I’m just waiting for Coach Sasabe to reveal what I’m pretty sure we’ve all guessed by now: that Amakata-sensei was a swimsuit model.  However, up until that point, I’m sure she’ll keep him coming back to watch the Iwatobi Swim Club compete (although he might be there for the swimming, too).  I’m sort of hoping he’ll agree to coach the team after this because, in his own words, watching them swim “got his blood pumping”.

The scene when Haruka listens to the voicemail his teammates left him is probably one of the best so far in this anime.  (I know, right?  I’m not talking about a scene where guys are half-naked…)  Actually seeing him react in the way he does to the fact that his teammates, his friends, care about him and want to continue swimming with him is just…there are no words.  Free! does what only anime can do in this particular scene by really showing that raw emotion without Haru having to say anything.

Aw, man, it looks like Rin doesn’t really like Rei (or Rei’s swimming, at the very least).  Personally, I was waiting for him to make some sort of negative comment about Rei; after all, Rei has virtually taken the place Rin used to fill with his friends.  If he really cared about how Rei looks while swimming with the others, or how fast he swims in a relay, he’d take him aside and show him how to do the butterfly his way.  But I’m pretty sure we all know that’s not going to happen.

Looking forward to the conclusion of the relay in the next episode!  It will also be nice to see the swim club having some fun and loosening up at the Squid Festival.

Free! Episode 9 Preview

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