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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1 year ago

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

Derek Maas
1 year ago

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

Zane Waddell
Reply to  Derek Maas
1 year ago

He had me too bro

1 year ago

Yay!!!! Roll Tide!!!

1 year ago

Gonna be a lil awkward don’t you think?

Cam Auerbach
Reply to  Swimmer
1 year ago


The Entire Team
Reply to  Swimmer
1 year ago

Not at all.

GA Boy
Reply to  Swimmer
1 year ago

What people don’t understand, because it’s only publicized when kids do transfer for the most part, but less than half of the athletes that enter the transfer portal end up transferring. All the entrance means is they are allowed to talk to other schools, they aren’t saying they’re leaving, they’re just simply weighing the options of other schools. Is it the most loyal move, probably not, but it’s simply just allowing yourself to be contacted by other schools.

1 year ago

This is so awesome!! Great news for Bama! I can’t wait to watch Liam year it up again for the Crimson Tide! Adding in Liam’s returning points, the battle for a top 3 finish at the SEC championship will be even tighter now!

Stephanie Godfrey
1 year ago

Rumor has it that he wanted to be the president of his own chess club and no other schools had chess clubs that were intellectually competitive enough

1 year ago

This dude looks like he stars in one of those tween shows on Netflix

Liam Neeson
Reply to  Pvdh
1 year ago

I’ve considered starting my own Netflix series

The michael phelps caterpillar
Reply to  Pvdh
1 year ago

VPDH, this is a disgusting comment. He should be focusing 100% on swimming instead of anything else. I kicked three children out of my age group swim team because they were playing other sports and asked to miss a Sunday morning practice for their soccer championship. As if I would let them miss practice to play a sport that started in Italy!

Reply to  The michael phelps caterpillar
1 year ago

youre a good man caterpillar

Reply to  The michael phelps caterpillar
1 year ago


1 year ago

Wondering if he got into the schools he was seeking to transfer to? You have to imagine with what a game changer he is that he’d be able to write his ticket anywhere. So him choosing to stay is clearly for his own reasons.

Respect the decision a ton though — he improved so much at Bama.

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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