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As the spring season arrives, Haruka Nanase and his friends Makoto Tachibana, Nagisa Hazuki and Rei Ryugazaki are invited by Rin Matsuoka to the Samezuka Academy to witness the departure of the school's third year students. During the racing festivities, Seijuro Mikoshiba invites the Iwatobi High School's swim club to a friendly freestyle relay, which Samezuka wins narrowly. While Nagisa and Rei feel frustrated, Makoto and Haru agree that it was fun, and they continue to watch the Samezuka team. Mikoshiba debriefs his team, warning them of "fearsome new face" entering the club in April and officially appoints Rin the next captain. However, Rin looks quite disheartened by this news, murmuring a quiet, and obviously troubled, "yes, Sir...".
Iwatobi High School's swim club struggles to recruit new members due to the cold weather of the season while Samezuka swim club has plenty of people trying out. Iwatobi's swim club teacher, Miho Amakata, suggests that they use Goro Sasabe's newly reopened Iwatobi SC Returns to practice.
At the following public swimming tournament, Rin and Haruka end up swimming in adjacent lanes. With a grin, Rin challenges Haruka to a race, and tells him that he'll make Haruka's cold face hot; despite the latter not showing any interest, his actions end up speaking for himself. They both race furiously and finish with the exact same timing, much to the surprise of the spectators. Rin raises his hand for a high five, and Haru eventually complies - Rin remarks that Haru seems all fired up now, as he had predicted, but Haru simply looks away.
While the teams leave, Haruka momentarily breaks from his teammates to catch up to Rin, who tells his own team to go on ahead. Haru invites him to Iwatobi High later that evening, but not telling him the reason.
When Rin arrives, they 'kidnap' him by covering his face with an Iwatobi-chan and bring him elsewhere. Although Rin kicks and struggles, he is greeted with the sight of the swimming pool full of cherry blossoms. Haruka tells him that he remembers that in grade school, Rin had mentioned wanting to swim in a pool like this. Rin is moved to tears at this comment and he hurriedly turns away, earning a laugh from his sister. Before the team can push Rin into the pool, it starts raining, leaving everyone to scramble for cover in the cold weather.
Rin questions Haruka and Makoto about their future, while affirming that he is aiming for to swim at a world level, with this year's national being his last chance. Makoto smiles gently and admits that he doesn't know just yet, and Rin looks away in displeasure, clicking his tongue against his teeth in annoyance. Haru, however, is still watching the side of Rin's face.
The next day, a new transfer student at Samezuka Academy, Sosuke Yamazaki, is introduced. He unintentionally sees Rin, who is sat near the back, and locks eyes with him. Rin knows Sousuke from when they were children, hence his shocked frown, and Sousuke only smirks.