Breaststroker Liam Bell Pops 18.56 50 Freestyle (Day 2 Swims You May Have Missed)


It was another sensational session at the 2023 Division I Men’s NCAAs, featuring Léon Marchand obliterating his own NCAA record in the 200 IM and Florida smashing the NCAA record in the 200 freestyle relay–the last of the supersuited era. But we’re here now to talk about some of the swims that you may have missed while all that eye-popping action was going on.

Sprint Freestyler Liam Bell: From 19.41 to 18.96

Cal senior Liam Bell is best known for his breaststroke abilities. But over the course of the day, he’s shown that he’s got some serious speed in the 50 freestyle as well. Bell came into the day with a lifetime best of 19.41, which put him 38th on the psych sheet. In prelims, he leapt up to qualify in 16th with a 19.04.

That’s a .37 second drop on its own, but Bell wasn’t done yet. In finals, he dipped under 19 seconds for the first time in his career; he blazed a 18.96 which moved him from 16th to finish 13th. Overall, he took .45 seconds off his lifetime best over the course of the day.

Swimming the 18.96 earned him the final spot on Cal’s 200 freestyle relay. There, Bell swam the third leg and split 18.59, helping the Bears finish second behind Florida in 1:13.82, also under Auburn’s long-standing NCAA record.

Luke Hobson Keeps Rolling, Splits 18.65

Sophomore Luke Hobson is having a great meet so far. After leading off Texas’ NCAA and American record setting 800 freestyle relay in 1:29.63, he earned his first individual NCAA title with a 4:07.37, making him the fifth-fastest performer in the event.

Hobson wasn’t done for today’s finals session after that win though. He joined Peter Larson, Danny Kruegerand Caspar Corbeau on the 200 freestyle relay, an event which has underlined their weak spot–a lack of sprint freestylers–all season. Despite coming in way back on the other top team contenders, the Longhorns acquitted themselves well, earning seventh in 1:15.58.

On the relay, Hobson split 18.65, an impressive swim for him given that his personal best flat start is registered as 19.98 from March 2021. Hobson dropped the 1650 free this year after finishing 16th in 2022. Instead, he’ll take on the 100 free on Day 4 of the meet. He’s been more focused on sprint/middle-distance free this year, and so far that’s paying off big time at this meet.

Auburn’s Impressive Start

It’s hard to miss them on the pool deck all with their bleached blonde hair, but you may have missed the impressive start to the meet that Auburn is having. They had an electric 2023 SEC Championships, earning a second place finish behind Florida, their highest since 2016. We wondered if they’d have anything left in the tank for NCAAs but with two full days still to go they’ve definitively answered “yes” to that question.

Via Mason Mathias and Michael Bonson‘s ‘B’ final appearances in the 500 free and three scoring relays, the Auburn Tigers currently have 57 points and are sitting in ninth. That’s more points than they’ve scored in the last three NCAA meets combined. They earned 22 points in 2022, 0 in 2021, and 6 in 2019.

It’s their relays that are standing out as not only are they scoring, they’re scoring highly. Their 800 free relay finished eighth in a school record time (6:11.64), ninth in the 200 medley relay (1:22.67), and tenth in the 200 free relay (1:15.85). In addition to their school record in the 800 free relay, their times in the 200 medley and 200 free relays are season-bests.

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2 months ago

He’s a breaststroker and a freestyler with that time!

2 months ago

Speaking of badass breaststrokers throwing down in freestyle, Caspar Corbeau dropped an 18.48 for Texas to cement them in the top 8. Even faster than Bell.

Reply to  Fluidg
2 months ago


Snowpipers of Alaska
2 months ago

Newmark’s 500 also kind of got buried among the headlines.
Any team not named Cal / Texas / FL / AZ State / NC State getting into the A-Final alone is practically noteworthy at this meet too.

2 months ago

The title of this should be: Breastroker Caspar Corbeau pops 18.48 50 free. Biased article. The boys are coming. Hook’em.

Reply to  Hellosushi
2 months ago

As good a sprinter as Caspar is, his PB is from the start of February, a 19.61

2 months ago

Day 2 swims you didn’t miss:

Seeliger adding 2 tenths and choking


Teri sucks
Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

You’re a joke. Get a life.

Teri sucks
Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

Cal’s going to win the team title and there’s nothing you can do about it #rollonyoubears #byetroll

Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

I’m sure he’ll be crying holding the team trophy Saturday night

2 months ago

Wow Texas could’ve put Hobson on anchor of 2 medley and they comfortably would have moved into top 8

Krueger’s anchor is in jeopardy for 4 medley

Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

100% Krueger should not anchor the medley.

Reply to  Andrew
2 months ago

True, although now he will max out on the remaining relays.

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
2 months ago

I would hope that Hobson will be on the 400 medley over Krueger.

Fake Gregg Troy
Reply to  PK Doesn't Like His Long Name
2 months ago

Krueger will be fresh, Hobson will be coming off of the 200 free. Personally I still think Hobson as well, but I’m guessing that eddie takes fresh Krueger.

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

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