The episode opens with Makoto at his part-time swim coach gig at the pool. After practice is over, he is surprised by Haruka and Ryuuji appearing, with Haruka saying that he is having Ryuuji coaching him. I had guessed that Ryuuji would become Haruka’s coach, but I didn’t realize that the deal to become Haruka’s coach would happen off-screen. I guess for the way the writers are plotting the story, they didn’t have the time to show that this happened. Maybe we’ll get a flashback of how Haruka agreed to be coached by Ryuuji at some point?
We also see that after the end of the previous episode, Ikuya and Hiyori’s friendship has become strained. Unfortunately, Hiyori pushed things too far, and this seems to be driving Ikuya away. Hiyori thought he was doing the right thing out of concern for Ikuya, but Ikuya didn’t see it that way. As we see near the end of the episode, at the college swim competition, Ikuya surprises Asahi by approaching him and talking. Through this conversation, we see that Ikuya feels confused and conflicted about friends and teammates and whether he really needs them. He does feel, though, that he’s alone when he’s in the pool.
Ikuya’s brother, Natsuya, ends up getting some development here as well. It becomes clear that he needs to take both his life and his younger brother a little more seriously. We get to see him reunite with Haruka and Asahi, and I think we start seeing a glimmer of the attitude change that Natsuya is in need of.
Our high school characters get a brief appearance, long enough for Gou to relate to Nagisa and Rei that Rin has beaten Australia’s base time in his competition, so he’s eligible to compete in the big race in Japan that everyone is trying to qualify for. Sosuke also gets a brief scene in this episode as well.
We get to see the beginning of the Japanese college competition, and it’s not surprising that Haruka beats the base time and qualifies for the big race. We also get to see a race that pits Asahi against Hiyori. And right at the end of the episode, we get a surprise: Haruka competing in a race he normally wouldn’t, just so we can swim with Ikuya again. Apparently, part of Ryuuji’s training was to prepare him for this race. Unfortunately, the episode ends right as the competitors start the race, so we won’t know how this ends up going until next week.
So this episode wasn’t quite as swimming focused as the preview made it out to be, but it was still enjoyable. Some important character development takes place here, and I’m genuinely curious to see how Ikuya is going to evolve as a character between now and the end of the series.