Haru fucking broke my heart in this episode.
From the beginning of the anime, we know Haru loves the water, he loves swimming free, he truly doesn’t care about his time or being scouted but I feel like - in this episode - it’s the first time that we truly saw that.
Haru has been lately put under a lot of pressure, what does he want to do next year ? Does he wants to go pro ? Will he accept the scouts many offers ? Will he and his friends win the relay this year ? Although he didn’t give two shits about being scouted or not, the fact that he was, the fact that many people think he has a great talent, that people are counting on him, that he’s being called the pride of Iwatobi High School, that made it all real for him, serious, it made swimming serious.
And Haru doesn’t want that, he doesn’t want the pressure, he doesn’t want to think about his immenient future, he doesn’t want to swin to for someone else, Haru only swims free, he only swims for himself and his friends.
This is why he stopped in the middle of the race because Haru swims because he wants to, not because he has to and especially not to impress someone else. Being put in this situation, under this stress, literallymade him feel like he couldn’t swim anymore, like he wasn’t free anymore. You can even see it as he swims, at the beginning the water is clear like usual but soon and it becomes dark, dark like when Sousuke swims because now, swimming because as painful for Haru because of the stress as it is for Sousuke because of his shoulder.
This scene was as powerful as it was heartbreaking because he Haru can’t swim freely, he won’t swim at all.