Cal's Liam Bell Barely Misses Qualifying for Olympics

Bell finishes fourth in 100-meter breaststroke final at swimming Olympic Trials, just 0.24 of a second out of second
Liam Bell competes in the men's 100-meter breaststroke
Liam Bell competes in the men's 100-meter breaststroke / Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Cal swimmer Liam Bell barely missed making the U.S. Olympic team by 0.24 of a second while finishing fourth in the 100-meter breaststroke finals Sunday evening at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Bell was the 2024 NCAA champion in the 100 breaststroke, setting an NCAA record in the process while swimming for Cal.  He finished Sunday’s 100 breaststroke finals in a time of 59.40, which left him in fourth place, 0.32 of a second behind winner Nic Fink, and 0.24 of a second behind second-place finisher Charlie Swanson.

By winning, Fink earned a berth in the Paris Olympics, and the second-place finisher traditionally gets an Olympic berth as well.  That means Fink and Swanson presumably are headed to France while third-place finisher Josh Matheny and Bell won’t make it to the Olympics in that event. This is the only event in which Bell is competing at the Olympic Trials.

Former Cal swimmer Luke Rodarte also reached the finals of the 100 breaststroke, finishing seventh.

Earlier in the evening, former Cal standout Ryan Murphy won his semifinal heat of the 100-meter backstroke, advancing to the finals in that event.  Hunter Armstrong, who did not attend Cal but trained with the postgrad Cal group, also qualified for the 100 breaststroke final, but he had to hustle to do it.  He got way behind when he slipped at the start and was eighth at the halfway point, but a strong final 50 enabled to finish second in his semifinal heat.

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Jake Curtis

JAKE CURTIS

Jake Curtis worked in the San Francisco Chronicle sports department for 27 years, covering virtually every sport, including numerous Final Fours, several college football national championship games, an NBA Finals, world championship boxing matches and a World Cup. He was a Cal beat writer for many of those years, and won awards for his feature stories.