- How about the OP? Nagisa crouched near the wall like he's about to cry, Haru getting unnaturally pissed, Haru crying, the prospect of most of the swim team we've come to know and love graduating... it's preparing us for the oncoming heartbreak.
- Episode 5. It's foreshadowed that because half of the main characters are graduating and have been filling out surveys for their career prospects that inevitably there'll be a character crack under the pressure. However, this happens to Nagisa of all people. It's disheartening enough seeing the one member of the Iwatobi swim team who's always smiling look so unhappy, but it's worse when we learn how miserable he is at the prospect of quitting the swim team. Especially since the fear of giving up something you love in order to "succeed" in life or satisfy a social standard is something a lot of high schoolers (and college students) could relate to.
- In episode 9, it's Haruka who cracks, in a big way. He straight-up stops in the middle of a race.
- Watch the animation while he's swimming. In his close-ups, the water darkens around him, the same way it does around Sousuke when he swims. It's likely symbolic of how the stress of having to give up swimming "free" is making swimming as painful for Haru as it is for the physically injured Sousuke.
- Episode 9 ends with Sousuke sitting underneath a shower, clutching at his shoulder and groaning in pain.
- This troper would also like to mention that he was all alone while that was happening, and based on how it just ended on that note, he stayed like that until he could get up, despite the searing pain he was already feeling.
- Also, look at the close-up on his shoulder. It's reddened and sore-looking. His injury is getting worse.
- Again from episode 9, Haru losing it and yelling at Rin when he comes to ask what happened during the race. This is Haru, who never raises his voice or loses his cool. Seeing him snap is just...jarring.
Rin: Do you not understand that what you do out there is going to impact your future? Don't you have a dream?! Take this more seriously! I know you could -
Haru: (slams his fist against the lockers) You're the one who doesn't understand! What dream? What future? It's you who cares about all that! I'm not you! I don't have any of that!
- Even worse is the completely stunned looks on the other boys. Rin in particular looks like he got slapped in the face.
- The wording adds a whole other level of heart-wrenching. Haruka literally says that he doesn't have a future.
- And then there's Episode 10 in which Sousuke tells Rin that he has entirely given up on his dream.
- After he realized that his shoulder injury could end his career in swimming, he keeps working it harder in physical therapy, but it was already too late and nothing could heal it. By then, he could only watch as his teammates surpassed him (a former champion), when his chances of ever improving were gone for good.
Sousuke: My impatience grew...And then one day I realized. My dream was never going to come true.
- As Sousuke tells his story, Rin is increasingly horrified and upset, and ends up driven to tears.
- The worst part is that this could have been completely avoided if Sousuke wasn't so driven. He noticed early on that something was wrong with his shoulder, but instead of stopping training to address the problem, he ignored it and kept working himself harder and harder until he'd completely wrecked his shoulder. His passion for swimming ended up making him unable to ever do exactly what he loves most.
- Haru and Makoto's argument in Episode 11, in which Makoto confronts Haru about his future plans and eventually reveals that he's going to a university in Tokyo. What really drives it home is how hurt Haru is about Makoto finally calling him out on avoiding talking about the future and how the latter is leaving him behind.
Makoto: I meant to tell you sooner, but I just couldn't find a way to say it. I...
Haru: Do whatever you want!! (Runs off)
- They're also both close to tears throughout the whole argument, and Haru is shown curled up in a fetal position beneath his duvet the next morning, his clothes strewn across the floor. It looks as if he's cried himself to sleep.
- And when Haru, in a fit of emotion, yells at Makoto that all he ever does is meddle with everyone and to stay out of everyone's business. Although he most likely didn't really mean it and only said so out of frustration and impulsiveness, Makoto's hurt expression◊ is heartbreaking. What makes things even worst is if you've read High Speed; Haru constantly thinks to himself of how Makoto always meddles into situations. Whether it being to troublesome or not wanting to hurt Makoto's feelings, he never goes out of his way to actually say it, until now.
- All Makoto has done for nearly two whole seasons is try to help his friends and put everyone else's needs before his own, and now the one time he does something for himself, his best friend throws it back in his face as an insult. Ouch.
- In episode 12 there's a flashback to when Rin started going to school in Australia, and how he had trouble fitting in at first. He tries to win his class over by giving his "I have a girly name, but I'm a boy" speech, but due to the cultural barrier the class just looks confused. Later, when he tries to tell his classmates about cherry blossoms, none of them seem to understand that either. We then cut to Rin walking alone, looking dejected.