Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club is a Japanese anime television series directed by Hiroko Utsumi and produced by Kyoto Animation and Animation Do. The anime is based on the light novel written by Kōji Ōji, High Speed!, which received an honorable mention in the second Kyoto Animation Award contest in 2011 and later published in July 2013. The anime aired in Japan between July 4 and September 26, 2013.
The story revolves around Haruka Nanase, a boy who has always loved to be immersed in water, and to swim in it. Before graduating from elementary school, he participated in a swimming tournament along with his fellow swimming club members, Makoto Tachibana, Nagisa Hazuki, and Rin Matsuoka. After achieving victory, each of the boys went their separate ways. Time passed, and in the middle of their uneventful high school lives Rin appears and challenges Haruka to a match, showing Haruka his overwhelming power. Not wanting it to end like this, Haruka, gathers together Makoto and Nagisa once again and brings a new member named Rei Ryugazaki to create the Iwatobi High School Swimming Club in order to defeat Rin.
DID YOU KNOW: Animation Do released a splash image for a new project in April 2012, which was followed by a television commercial for the project in March 2013. The commercial quickly went viral among fans, who quickly developed a following around what they dubbed as the “swimming anime”. Despite only being a 30-second commercial, a wide variety of fan works expanding upon the nameless characters from the ad were created, including hypothetical biographies, art, and fan fiction, along with online petitions calling on the studio to turn it into a real series.