Liam Bell

View Current photo via Jack Spitser

Junior Swimming

Bell first became known when he helped Dynamo Swim Club break a 16-hour-old 13-14 400 medley relay NAG record with a time of 4:02.59 at the 2015 Georgia LC Age Group State Championships. Bell split a 1:05.51 on the breast leg.

Bell really had his breakout at the end of the 2015 LC season. At the West Lafayette Futures Championships, he became just the 3rd 14-and-under American to dip under 1:04 in the 100 breast, winning in a 1:03.84, the exact same time he dropped in prelims, to rank #3 all-time behind Reese Whitley and Michael Andrew. He lowered his mark further to a 1:03.57 at 2015 Summer Nationals, frog-hopping Andrew in the all-time rankings and dipping under the Olympic Trials cut. 

While he was initially not as strong of a SCY swimmer, Bell, just a freshman, dropped a 55.76 100 breast and a 1:50.53 200 IM at the 2016 Georgia 1-5A state championships, both PBs and good for 2nd. 

 Bell, 15, set another 100 breast PB with a 1:03.46 at the Speedo Champions Series in Nashville in March 2016. At Olympic Trials, Bell was off his form, clicking a 1:04.32 for 106th.

Bell returned to form in the spring of 2017, where he clocked a 100 breast PB of 55.10 at NCSA Championships. 

He clocked an LCM PB in the same event 3 times over the summer of 2018. At the Georgia Open in early July, Bell clocked a 1:03.33. He lowered that further to a 1:02.89 in the prelims of the Georgia Senior LCM State Championships. In the finals, Bell found .3 more seconds, going a 1:02.59. At the same meet, he also clocked PBs 23.81/52.49 in the 50/100 free and a 2:08.75 in the 200 IM. 

After his major LC strides, Bell returned to the SC pool in October 2018 at the Fall Invite in Atlanta. He went to town on his PBs in every race. He went 20.69/44.60/1:40.23 in his 50/100/200 free, 1:49.67 in his 200 IM and, most importantly, 54.03/2:00.13 in his 100/200 breast. A week later, Bell verbally committed to the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Bell continued to roll through the fall and crushed PBs in 7 events at the Georgia Senior state meet in December. Bell took down the Georgia state records in the men’s 17-18 100y (53.31) and 200y breaststroke (1:57.30).  Bell also won the 100 free (44.18) and nabbed 2nd in the 50 free (20.29).  Had he made it into the “A” final of the 200 IM, he would’ve claimed his fourth title by almost 4 seconds (1:48.85, 11th). He also competed in the 200 free (1:39.73, 11th) and 100 back (50.62, 5th). 

Bell returned to the Record book at the 2019 Georgia 1A-5A State Championships. He went 1:49.65 in the 200 IM and 53.83 in the 100 breast to be a dual event winner. That breaststroke time smashed a state record set at 54.28 last year. He also clocked a 50 free PB of 20.26 leading off in the 200 free relay. 

Records continued to fall at Bell’s hands at the Speedo Sectionals a month later in Greensboro. In the 100 breast, he first broke Mark Gangloff’s 2009 meet record with a 52.75. Later in the evening, Bell swam a 52.21 to re-break his hours-old record. Bell’s finals time cracked the all-time 17-18 rankings to rank #7 and was the top time in the class of 2019. 

At our final re-rank of the class of 2019, Bell, thanks to his massive season, moved from not ranked to #13. He was one of just 3 boys with NCAA scoring times in the class. 

Bell then transitioned to LC and started his season off well with PBs in he 50/100 free and 100 breast at the esteemed Atlanta Classic in May. In the free events, he clocked a time of 23.47 and 51.43, both respectable, but his big swim came in at 1:02.16 in the 100 breast.

At Summer Juniors, Bell led the 100 breast prelims with a 1:01.49, another big PB. He was able to maintain seed and drop yet more time with a 1:01.19, #9 all-time in the 17-18 NAG. The next morning, Bell was a bit off, placing 33rd in the 100 free with a 51.80. Undeterred, Bell placed 3rd in the 200 breast with a 2:15.17. He followed that up later in the meet with an 8th-place finish in the 50 free (23.42) and a 9th-place finish in the 200 IM (2:04.07). 

College Swimming

2019-2020 (Alabama)

Bell swam season bests of 53.53 and 1:59.84 in the 100 and 200 breasts at the Georgia Tech Invite at mid-seasons. He also recorded a PB of 1:48.26 in the 200 IM and split a 19.59 50 free and 44.02 100 free from the swing. In dual meets throughout the season, Bell was 54s and 55s in the 100 breast.

Come SECs and Bell was firing on all cylinders. He started things off with a 23.69 50 breast split, taking over from Zane Waddell’s 20.33 leadoff on Alabama’s 200 medley relay which ended up 4th after Jonathan Berneburg missed his turn on the anchor.. The next morning, he took over 2 seconds off his PB in the 200 IM prelims, swimming a 1:45.98 to just make it back in 22nd. Bell made the most of a 2nd swim, dropping a further 1.63 seconds in the final to win the C final in 1:44.35. Had he swum that in the prelim, he would have easily “A” finaled. 

In the 100 breast on day 4, Bell neared his PB with a 52.23 to qualify back in 6th. Just as he did in the 200 IM, Bell found another gear in the final. There he crushed a 51.39 for runner-up in the final. Bell backed that up with a 50.78 100 breast relay split the same night, taking over from Waddell’s 44.10 leadoff. Tyler Sesvold split a 45.09 on the fly and Jonathan Berneburg anchored in 42.20 to help the Crimson Tide to a new 400 medley relay meet record of 3:02.17. 

Bell clocked another major PB in the 200 breast prelims, dropping to 1:53.83 in prelims, nearly a 3.5-second drop. He found a further .9 seconds in the final, rocking a 1:52.93 for 4th. 

While the 2020 NCAA Championships were canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Bell was seeded to make the 100 breast A-final and the 200 breast B-final. With the 2019-20 NCAA season all but concluded, Bell was the fastest freshman in the country in the 100 breast. After lockdowns began and NCAAs was canceled, Bell entered the NCAA transfer portal. Bell had committed to the Alabama program prior to their hiring of current head coach, Coley Stickels. Bell opted to stay at ‘Bama.


After not swimming in a meet for 9 months, Bell returned against LSU in November. There, he took 2nd to Brooks Curry in the 100 free with a 43.70. 

At the Tennessee Invite, which was really a double dual between UVA, Tennessee, and Alabama, Bell showed off some impressive improvements in freestyle while putting up good times in the breast events as well. Leading off in the 200 free relay, Bell clocked a 19.64. Bell was 42.81 in his 100 free and led off in the 800 free relay in 1:36.01. All three were PBs and “B” cuts. He was 52.05 in the 100 breast, his 2nd-fastest swim ever. Bell was also 1:55.81 in the 200 breast, his #3 time ever. In the 200 IM he was 1:48.46.

Bell was well off form at SEC Championships, placing 17th in the 100 breast with a 53.21, 26th in the 50 free with a 20.00, and 42nd in the 100 free with a 44.58. 

Bell withdrew from the NCAA Championship meet after he entered the transfer portal in March, 1 of 6 Alabama men to do so. He ended up transferring to Cal.


Bell got off to a good start in Berkley, winning the 100 breast in 52.49 against UVA, his first meet. 

At the Minnesota Invite, Bell was on good form, taking 12th in the 50 free with a 19.73, just .09 seconds off his PB. He also took 5th in the 100 breast with a season-best of 52.07. Bell also clocked his fastest 50 breast relay split with a 23.29 on the Cal “A” 200 medley relay. 

In February, Bell continued his fast racing, clocking a 52.31 100 breast for the win against Stanford. At Pac-12s in March, Bell clocked a season-best 52.01 100 breast, his fastest time since his PB. That was good for 5th. He also placed 10th in the 200 breast (1:54.61), his first time contesting that distance in the season.

Bell did nothing short of pop off at NCAAs. His top form was clear from night 1, when, following Bjorn Seeliger’s 20.08 50 back, Bell clocked a 22.71 50 breast leg to help the Cal 200 medley relay to 3rd. Day 2 saw Bell contest the 50 free where he placed 36th with a 19.48, a new PB.

Day 3 featured Bell in the 100 breast. Starting out as the 24th seed, Bell blasted a massive 50.66 PB in prelims to qualify back 2nd. He found a further .16 seconds but fell the 3rd in the final with a 50.50, another PB. Day 4 was more of the same, as Bell undercut his 200 breast PB with a 1:52.32. He again dropped more in finals, taking off nearly a second with a 1:51.36 to win the “B” final. Cal claimed the national title thanks in part to Bell’s 25 points. 


Just as he did the year prior, Bell waited to really show his cards until NCAAs. Bell was less than half a second off his 50 free PB against Utah, winning in 19.86. Bell was decent at the Minnesota Invite. He missed his 50 free season-best with a 19.91 but reset his season-best with a 19.78 relay leadoff. He also had a solid 52.15 100 breast in prelims and was just off that mark with a 52.29 in finals.

At Pac-12s, Bell was a little sharper. He clocked a 50 free PB of 19.41, a “B” cut,  for 10th. On day 3, he took 3rdh with a 51.58 in the 100 breast, automatically qualifying him for NCAAs. He notched another “B” cut with a 1:56.89 200 breast in prelims but did not swim the finals.

On night one of NCAAs, Bell showed his return to form with a 22.99 50 breast split as the Golden Bears took 4th in the 200 medley relay. The next morning, Bell just snuck into the 50 free final, clocking a big PB of 19.04. He was even better in the final, sprinting to 13th with an 18.96. His biggest swim of the night was his 18.59 50 free split in the 200 free relay as Florida (1:13.35) and Cal (1:13.82) both got under Auburn’s legendary 200 free relay NCAA record of 1:14.08 set with super suits in 2009.

Bell had another excellent swim the next morning, nearing his PB with a 50.76 100 breast in prelims for 3rd. In the final, Max McHugh won by .6 of a 2nd but just .28 seconds separated 2nd through 6th. Bell ended up being the 6th man, touching in 50.88. Bell was off form in the 200 breast the next morning, swimming a 1:53.76, sill a season-best, for 27th. Cal repeated as national Champions. 


Bell did not swim any meets over the summer of 2023, swimming only once or twice a week and not really having a competition goal in mind at all. However, he made his gains in the weight room, building a ton of strength and using the college season to learn how to manage that strength in the pool.

It took a while for Bell to round into form. If that rings a bell, that is because Bell did just the same thing in the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons. At mid-season, Bell went 53.07/1:56.33 in his 100/200 breast, and was 19.61 in his 50 free. He also had relay splits of 18.94/41.98/23.09 in his 50/100 free/50 breast.

His form first showed in mid-January in the highly anticipated Cal/ASU dual meet. His meet opened with a 23.17 50 breast, contributing to Cal’s nation-leading 1:21.67 200 medley relay. He then took 3rd in the 100 breast with a 51.88, taking 1.19 seconds off his season best. Bell backed that up with a season-best 1:54.01 for 4th in the 200 breast. He rounded out the day with a 19.07 50 free split in the 200 free relay to help the Cal men tie ASU. 

Bell was just off his season best a month later against Stanford, taking 3rd in the 100 breast in 51.90.

Bell really started to look good at PAC-12s. He had a rough 19.75 50 free on day 2 but bounced back with a field-leading 51.46 100 breast the next morning. Bell lowered his season best to a 50.89 in the final to become the first non-ASU swimmer to win an event in the meet. Bell dove in again in the 400 medley relay, and split a 50.47 100 breast. He backed that up with a 42.17 100 free the next morning, a new PB. He lowered that mark further to a 41.98 in the final for 5th.  Bell then popped a 41.96 100 free relay split.

Heading into NCAAs, the 100 breast was widely considered the most open race with Bell just 1 of 2 returning “A” finalists. Bell made a convincing case that he was the top contender on night 1. On the breast leg of the 200 medley relay, Bell passed Leon Marchand for the fastest 50 breast split of all-time. Bell swam a 22.25, 0.02 seconds faster than Marchand’s 22.27 from a year ago. 

The next morning, Bell was 19.09 in the 50 free, a substantial season best but good enough only for 19th. That night, Bell helped the Golden Bears to a 2nd place finish in the 200 free relay, splitting an 18.46. 

Bell, tied as the top seed with Noah Nichols coming into the 100 breast, got some separation from the field, taking the top seed by .35 seconds with a 50.52. That was just .02 seconds off of his PB set in 2022. Entering the final, few had their eyes on Ian Finnerty’s NCAA record of 49.69. In the final, Bell took out his race impossibly fast, touching in 23.15 at the turn, .11 seconds under Finnerty’s pace. Somehow, Bell only got better from there, coming home in 26.38, also faster than Finnerty’s split, to touch in a 49.53, a new U.S. Open, NCAA, American, Meet, and Pool record. That was almost a full second drop. He returned that night in the 400 medley relay, splitting a 49.70 on the breast leg as Cal took 2nd. 

Bell came into his final event, the 200 breast, as the #32 seed. He was excellent in the morning, swimming a new career best of 1:50.78, Bell’s first time under 1:51 in the event. In the final, Bell was out 2nd at the 50 to Marchand and continued to run 2nd through the 150. The piano fell on Bell on the bell lap, as he split a 30.71 coming home, fading to 4th but still grabbing a PB of 1:50.15. His splits were 24.18/27.77/27.49/30.71. 

National/International Swimming

2022 International Team Trials (Greensboro, North Carolina)

About a month after his superb NCAAs, Bell clocked PBs in his 50 and 100 breast. In the former, he moved out of prelims in 5th with a 27.60, a PB, and just missed that mark with a 27.64 in the final to maintain seed. In the 100 breast, Bell was not far off of his PB with a 1:01.50 in prelims for 9th. He clocked a PB of 1:01.15 in the “B” final for 11th. 

This biography was originally developed by Lucas Caswell

Best Times

Course Event Time Date Meet
scy 50 Free 18.96 03/23/23 2023 NCAA Championships
Minneapolis, Minnesota
scy 100 Free 41.98 03/09/24 2024 PAC-12 Championships
Federal Way, Washington
scy 100 Breast 49.53 03/29/24 2024 NCAA Championships
Indianapolis, Indiana
scy 200 Breast 1:51.15 03/30/24 2024 NCAA Championships
Indianapolis, Indiana
lcm 100 Breast 1:01.15 04/29/22 2022 International Team Trials
Greensboro, North Carolina