Taiga isn’t happy that the competition is chosen to be a 50-meter freestyle swim, however she still shakes on the deal with Ami. The general feeling in the class is that Ami will win, but Ryuuji thinks that Taiga can pull it off. He tries to train her at the school pool, but Taiga doesn’t like practicing while everyone is watching. Regardless, Ryuuji is under the impression that Taiga is doing all this because she doesn’t want Kitamura to go to Ami’s villa, but when she hears him say this, she throws a magazine at him and just wants him to make her dinner. Taiga spends the next few days practicing in any way she can outside of the pool and her real chance comes when Kitamura – who believes in her – gives her and Ryuuji a pair of tickets to the public swimming pool. That same afternoon, Ryuuji runs into Ami by the vending machines, and Ami comments on how cute Taiga is when jealous. Ryuuji thinks that Taiga isn’t jealous but rather simply doesn’t like Ami, and that prompts Ami to call him an idiot. Ryuuji then tries to get Ami to stop provoking Taiga, but she declares that she’s serious about winning and spending the summer with him. She suggests that the two of them get along well, and this causes Ryuuji to blush and deny it. On his way out of the school building, Ryuuji is stopped by Minori who reveals that she knows that it was he who modified Taiga’s swimsuit. Taiga had told Minori in the past about how Ryuuji does all sorts of household chores, and Minori sees that as amazing, so she entrusts Taiga to him.
The following day, Ryuuji and Taiga head to the public swimming pool, and Ryuuji discovers that Taiga is incredibly fast in the water when given an inner tube and told to flutter kick. He gives Taiga the confidence that she can win, but unfortunately, it then starts raining. Taiga refuses to go home and wants to keep going, so Ryuuji comments on how they don’t want to waste Kitamura’s feelings after he gave him the tickets. Taiga tries to deny that this is the reason she’s trying so hard, but Ryuuji still doesn’t get it, so she gives up trying to explain it to him. This causes Ryuuji to think that she’s trying so hard due to how she doesn’t want to be separated from him because then he couldn’t cook for her. Taiga gets pissed off as Ryuuji continues on about how he’ll go alone and prevent Kitamura from going with Ami if Taiga loses, and she accuses him of wanting to go to Ami’s villa from the very beginning. She’s hates people who think they know what she’s feeling, and she admits that no one should know because even she herself doesn’t know. Taiga gives up on the competition and storms off, and Ryuuji is troubled after she doesn’t show up for dinner that night. When his mother returns home and learns of what happened, she suggests that he should understand that Taiga doesn’t say what she means and that Taiga doesn’t really hate him.
The next morning, Ryuuji brings Taiga a boxed lunch like always, and although she accepts it, she still refuses to swim. When it comes time for the competition, everyone else gathers at the pool, but Taiga doesn’t show up. Instead, she back in the classroom about to have lunch, but when she opens what Ryuuji packed her, she finds the box full of meat items, just like she had wanted. Right as Minori is thinking about calling off the competition, Taiga shows up at the pool decked out in flotation devices. She starts the race off by throwing all the objects at Ami and then ripping off Ami’s bikini top while in the water. This gives Taiga a head start since Ami is forced to retrieve her top, but that advantage is short-lived because Taiga hurts her leg as she tries to make the turn back. Ryuuji dives in to help her, but Taiga insists on continuing and tells him to be happier that his master is working so hard for him. Ami passes Taiga at this point, so Ryuuji gives her a push forward and lets her go. Before the race finishes however, several of the guys who were spectating fall into the pool right onto the spot Ryuuji is. He gets hit and starts drowning, and Taiga immediately notices. She saves Ryuuji, but after she gets him to safety, she refuses to let anyone touch him because no one else noticed or tried to help. Bawling now, she declares that Ryuuji belongs to her, and the somewhat-conscious Ryuuji smiles.
Sometime later, Ami, Kitamura, Minori, Taiga, and Ryuuji all meet at a cafe, and Taiga announces that she’s coming along to Ami’s villa. When Ami suggests that Taiga might be uneasy about being separated from Takasu and mocks how Taiga had declared that Ryuuji was hers, Taiga doesn’t deny it and explains that it’s because Ryuuji is her dog. While the others start planning the trip, Ami privately tells Ryuuji that it’s too bad that they can’t be alone together, however she thinks that there will still be chances.
Well, Toradora continues to pleasantly surprise me with how good it can be. Most of the episode leads up to the showdown between Taiga and Ami while reflecting on the reason Taiga is doing it, and although the race itself was interesting (mainly because Taiga didn’t exactly play fair), the most powerful scene – touching even – was when Taiga protects Ryuuji and refuses to let anyone touch him after he almost drowns. It’s just a shame she goes back to treating him like a dog afterward. I guess though that how you view all that depends on if you think that Taiga and Ryuuji’s special relationship will ever develop into them becoming a couple – note that I’m not using the word love because I think that to an extent they already do love each other, just not necessarily in the romantic way – or if they’ll simply continue to grow their bond while aiming for Kitamura and Minori respectively. The latter is probably what will keep the story going, but I wouldn’t rule out the former for the end of the anime or whenever the novels finally end.