SEC Runner-Up Liam Bell Decides to Stay at ‘Bama after Entering Transfer Portal

SEC runner-up Liam Bell has decided to stay at Alabama after entering the NCAA transfer portal in mid-March, multiple people close to the situation have confirmed to SwimSwam.

In his rookie season, Bell finished 2nd at the SEC Championship in the 100 breaststroke and 4th in the 200 breaststroke. In total, he scored 63 individual points for the Crimson Tide, which made him their 4th-best scorer en route to a 4th-place finish overall at the meet.

Under first-year head coach Coley Stickels, Alabama had a very young core to their program last season. While their top scorer, and 50 back World Champion, Zane Waddell exhausted his eligibility, the team’s next 9-best scorers at the SEC Championships were all underclassmen, most of them freshmen and sophomores.

In his first season at Alabama, he dropped 8-tenths of a second in the 100 breaststroke and almost 4-and-a-half seconds in the 200 breaststroke. While the NCAA Championship meet was ultimately canceled because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Bell was seeded 6th in the 100 breaststroke and 16th in the 200 breaststroke going into that meet. He was also entered to swim the 200 IM.


  • 50 free – 20.29
  • 100 free – 44.18
  • 200 free – 1:39.73
  • 100 breast – 52.21
  • 200 breast – 1:57.30
  • 100 fly – 48.78
  • 200 IM – 1:48.85


  • 100 breast – 51.39
  • 200 breast – 1:52.93
  • 200 IM – 1:44.35

While many programs have internal policies about athletes being removed from team activities when they enter the transfer portal, entering the portal does not require an athlete to transfer. The tool was developed originally as a digital compliance tool to help compliance administrators manage the transfer process from start to finish.

The system was developed for the 2018-2019 academic year, when the NCAA moved to a “notification-of-transfer” model, where student-athletes must be placed in the portal within 2 business days of a request to enter the portal. This deviated from a prior model, where student-athletes had to request permission from their coach, and then an increasingly-senior group of administrators, for permission to contact other coaches. Without that permission, student-athletes were unable to be offered athletics aid at the new school.

This, in addition to having to send paperwork to each school the student-athlete eventually contacted, created an administrative burden and inefficiency that the portal was designed to reduce.

Schools can reduce or stop giving athletics aid at the end of a term where a request was made to enter a transfer portal; once a student-athlete has withdrawn from the portal, schools can also add them back to their roster and restore athletics aid, if they choose to.

Bell is originally from Atlanta, Georgia, where he attended Druid Hills High School. In high school, he was the youngest male swimmer to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, and was the 2019 US Junior National Champion in the 100 meter breaststroke.

Last summer, before beginning competition for Alabama, Bell was the 20th-ranked American in the 100 breaststroke in long course with a 1:01.19.

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11 months ago

Guess coley isn’t too bad after all. Unlike the comment on the original post would leave you to believe.

Derek Maas
11 months ago

Epic prank bro. You even got me with this one lol

Zane Waddell
Reply to  Derek Maas
11 months ago

He had me too bro

11 months ago

Yay!!!! Roll Tide!!!

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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