“Streamline of Unity!”
We arrive at a similar juncture to the previous summer in Free!. This episode was very much about Rei and Nagisa, focusing on their final high school swim, with strong echoes back to last season when everyone else was on the cusp of graduation. Camaraderie was ever-present. On top of eating a meal together in Tokyo, Makoto offered his workplace for Rei and Nagisa to swim as they’d like and finalise their preparations. But I’d say that Rin and Haru went an extra mile, figuratively and literally. They skipped important training for the All-Japan Nationals just to attend the competition and express support. Particularly poignant was Rin’s concession that he wouldn’t be the swimmer he was today without the bonds he had formed, hence he felt obligated to show up and support his Samezuka kouhais.
And it seems obvious in hindsight – no one in modern sport ever made it to the top by themselves. People need coaches to sharpen them, rivals to increase their drive, family and friends whose sake they can swim for, etc. Haru is no exception either, though he may seem like it at times. Only recently has he acquired a coach and a true ‘rival’ to inspire him in the form of Albert, but above all else, he has always had his friends. So it makes sense that he’d be there for his friends, since they’ve been there for him his entire life. Anyway, it’s a damn shame that Rei didn’t qualify and that Nagisa got beaten by Ai. Nevertheless the two had a really great year full of wonderful memories together, and I look forwards to seeing them reunite with their sempais as well as swim at a university level.
Now that’s done and dusted, there is only one competition left that’s been relevant for the run of Dive to the Future – the All-Japan Nationals. If you don’t mind, this is where I’ll go on a tangential anecdote. At the beginning of this entire series, Haru was more talented than his peers beyond all measure. Rin could only keep up by putting in superhuman levels of hard work. Now that Haru has gone to university, he finally sees the entire ocean of swimmers for what it truly is. For now, let’s put aside Albert, who is such an outlier to anything the series has come up with so far. His transcendence poses a troublesome question that is particularly hard to directly answer without another season of progression. I also doubt that he will compete with Haru anytime soon, because their recent encounter seemed like pure happenstance for the most part.
But with the All-Japan freestyle on the horizon, we can turn our attention towards an ominous premonition – the rising Japanese star who‘s been breaking records after switching from butterfly to freestyle. I have a feeling that Haru’s single-minded obsession with freestyle will heavily dictate how this turns out, though I’d temper my expectations, considering that the converted swimmer broke a national record during a casual practice session. Am I excited to witness how the All-Japan races pan out? No doubt! But I’m uncertain on how things will end up. For those wanting a definitive answer to the best freestylist, who doesn’t want to see Rin, Haru and Ikuya contend in the 100m freestyle? But while Haru is undergoing a massive training arc, we haven’t really seen the fruits of his progress for what they are. His results are up in the air as far as I’m concerned, with stiff competition all around, though I would like to see him do well! Anyway, that’s about everything I wanted to discuss. As always thank you very much for reading my post, and see you next week!