AG079 : Pearls are a Spoink's Best Friend
Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire
AG081 : Take This House and Shuppet
That's Just Swellow
AG080   EP354
Beginning Challenge! Sky Match - PokéRinger!!
First broadcast
Japan June 10, 2004
United States May 28, 2005
English themes
Opening This Dream
Japanese themes
Opening チャレンジャー!!
Ending スマイル
Animation Team Ota
Screenplay 藤田伸三 Shinzō Fujita
Storyboard 誌村宏明 Hiroaki Shimura
Assistant director ながはまのりひこ Norihiko Nagahama
Animation director 広岡歳仁 Toshihito Hirooka
Additional credits

That's Just Swellow (Japanese: 初挑戦!空中競技・ポケリンガ!! Beginning Challenge! Sky Match - PokéRinger!!) is the 80th episode of Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire, and the 354th episode of the Pokémon anime. It was first broadcast in Japan on June 10, 2004, and in the United States on May 28, 2005.

Spoiler warning: this article may contain major plot or ending details.


Outside Crossgate Town, the kids meet a Trainer named Shane and his Swablu. He is practicing for the PokéRinger competition, a contest where flying Pokémon battle in the sky to capture a ring and place it on the goal post.

Ash and May both sign up with Taillow and Beautifly. Meanwhile, Team Rocket has also arrived in town. As a child, James received training from a champion PokéRinger, and decides to enter the competition as well.

The competitors are matched up into three separate groups of four. In the first group, Shane and his Swablu use the wind to their advantage and win the round. Ash faces the previous PokéRinger champion in the next group, but knocks out his Volbeat to win. In the last group, May and James face off against each other, but Dustox (borrowed from Jessie) scores the goal.

In the next round, Ash's Taillow faces off against a Skarmory and wins easily. Shane goes up against James, but his Swablu gets blinded by the sun, giving Dustox a chance to score.

While the competition is going on, Jessie and Meowth have been tricking Trainers into leaving their Pokémon behind for a special "relaxing" treatment. They trap the Pokémon into a net and prepare to run. Meowth tries to order James to leave with them, but James refuses.

Ash and James begin the final round, but they are interrupted by a freak tornado in the middle of the field that blocks their path to the ring. Ash sends Taillow into the swirling wind, and its determination causes it to evolve into Swellow. Swellow snags the ring and leaves the tornado, with Dustox on its tail. Swellow punts the ring onto the goal, and James is dragged away sobbing by Team Rocket.

Swellow frees the stolen Pokémon, and then Pikachu sends Team Rocket blasting off with Thunderbolt. Ash attends the award ceremony, where his picture is displayed alongside the previous PokéRinger champions.


Ash and his friends arrive in Crossgate Town, where they immediately help a Swablu floundering in the air. They meet the Swablu's Trainer Shane, who tells them that they were training for the annual PokéRinger competition, a game that involves two or four Trainers using their Pokémon to capture a ring that is hanging in the air with the first Pokémon to successfully bring the ring to the goal post winning. Shane informs Ash and his friends that a PokéRinger tournament is scheduled later in the day. There are lots of Trainers coming to compete, not all of them local. Shane is forced to admit that this is his first tournament. Team Rocket is here as well, and James reveals that he is experienced in the sport of PokéRinger. Having learned from his PokéRinger teacher who had been very first winner of the tournament, James reveals he had some aspirations of becoming a player when he was younger. So James becomes determined to compete in the competition. After the contestants are randomized, Shane is placed in the first round. Ash is in the second round along with the defending champion, Volt, and his Volbeat. James makes a somewhat unusual entrance, getting placed in the third block along with May. May, displaying a characteristic lack of manners, totally ignores James even after he wishes her a good battle. The tournament gets underway and Shane emerges victorious in the first block.

Volbeat seems to have the early advantage in the second round by possessing Electric-type attacks. Although the other two Trainers' Pokémon fall quickly to Volbeat's Thunder, Taillow manages to resist the electricity and grab the ring. Volbeat, however, doesn't give up and another Thunder causes Taillow to drop the ring while trying to dodge. Volbeat takes it and goes for the goal. However, Taillow's counterattack causes Volbeat to lose the ring, securing Ash a win in the second round. Now, James and May face off in the third round. May and Beautifly concentrate their efforts on the other two Pokémon in the round, underestimating James's skill as a PokéRinger. James's Dustox rides Beautifly's Gust attack to the goalpost, making it to the semifinals. Meanwhile, the business scheme that Jessie and Meowth have concocted seems to be raking in the cash and the Pokémon. They are bringing them in from the ranks of all the losers' Pokémon. It is time for the semifinals to begin. After Ash and Taillow defeat a Trainers' Skarmory, Shane and James face off. Swablu has the early advantage, but James's experience pays off tactics-wise. When the sudden sunlight blinds Swablu as the clouds move, James takes the ring and proceeds to the finals.

The final round is Ash versus James. However, the battle is interrupted by Meowth, and he and James have a furious conversation aided by flags, as though they have suddenly started using the semaphore system. Meowth gets smacked in the face by a flag, and James turns his attention back to the battle at hand. James has the advantage and uses Psybeam on Taillow. However, Taillow retaliates with Wing Attack. James isn't out of the round yet, but a sand tornado starts and engulfs the ring completely. It appears as though after the tornado is over, it will be a matter of speed - who can take the ring first. In a surprise move, Ash orders Taillow to fly into the tornado but it is knocked back. In a second attempt to enter the tornado, Taillow evolves into Swellow. Swellow successfully fends off the tornado and seizes the ring. James makes one last desperate play and tries to take the ring to the goal, but Ash orders Swellow to use Wing Attack and knocks the ring into the goal, thereby winning the PokéRinger tournament. James is heartbroken and Jessie shows up in the Meowth balloon with all of the stolen Pokémon. However, Swellow saves the day with a Wing Attack. The Pokémon are freed from Team Rocket's net and Ash tells Pikachu to use Thunderbolt causing the balloon to blow up, and Team Rocket blasts off. Ash is granted honorary lifetime citizenship of Crossgate Town as a reward for winning the PokéRinger tournament.

Major events

Ash after winning
For a list of all major events in the anime, please see the history page.


Pokémon debuts




Pokémon Trainer's Choice

Pokémon Trainer's Choice: Marshtomp


  • The episode's English dub title is a reference to the phrase "that's just swell".
  • This marks the first time Meowth fills in for James in the Team Rocket's motto, after doing so for Jessie previously.
  • Wobbuffet hiccups at the end of the motto and says "Wobba-hic!"
  • This marks the first time Team Rocket's original theme is played in full since Hoenn Alone!, the last episode of the original series, simultaneously making it the first time said theme was featured in Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire. It is also the first time that both the original and new themes are played in the same episode.
  • This marks the first time James borrowed a Pokémon from Jessie, who usually borrows Pokémon from him to compete in Pokémon Contests.
  • This episode marks one of the rare occasions that a member of Team Rocket refers to one of the main characters by name, as James does while speaking to May during the competition.
  • This episode’s plot is retreaded in Pursuing a Lofty Goal!:
    • Ash enters a PokéRinger with his Flying-type Pokémon, while James enters with one of Jessie's Bug-type Pokémon.
    • In each episode, the over-confident and boastful former champion enters only to be knocked out in the first round.
    • Ash's Flying-type Pokémon evolves into its final form, helping him win the competition.
    • Ash's Pokémon hits the hoop over the goal section with its wings. The same background music is used in both scenes.
  • In the Finnish dub, Shane is voiced by Miska Saari, the winner of the 2006 Pokémon Trading Card Game World Championships.
  • Advance Adventure and an instrumental version of OK! are used as background music.


  • Instead of Wing Attack, Ash commands Taillow to use "Wing" against Volbeat.
    • Some of the international dubs corrected this error.
  • When all of Team Rocket's captured Pokémon are in a net, one of the Golbat was colored like a Crobat.
  • While Shane is talking to Max about the competition, the man who is sitting behind him is slightly overlapping Shane.
  • The challengers were divided into three blocks, and from each one the winner moved to the semifinals. However, there were four semifinalists instead of three.

Dub edits

  • In the English dub, the "Close" sign is changed to "Closed".

Pokémon Trainer's Choice

In other languages

AG079 : Pearls are a Spoink's Best Friend
Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire
AG081 : Take This House and Shuppet
  This episode article is part of Project Anime, a Bulbapedia project that covers all aspects of the Pokémon anime.