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East’s Drayden Bell defends state titles

Published: Feb. 20, 2021 at 12:08 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 20, 2021 at 12:11 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - Wichita East junior Drayden Bell added on to his legacy at the 6A Swimming and Diving State Championship Friday, defending his title in both the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle races.

“It feels great to maintain both the 50 and 100-yard titles, it’s a huge thing for me so I’m pleased with that,” said Bell.

Bell is now a three-time 50-yard freestyle champion and a two-time 100-yard freestyle champion. He swam a time of 20.42 in the 50-yard freestyle and 45.16 in the 100-yard freestyle. Both times were the fastest in Kansas this season, earning him All-American status in both events.

Bell was .33 seconds away from breaking the state record (20.09) in the 50-yard freestyle, a goal he had set for himself at the beginning of the season.

“There was a little bit of disappointment, it wasn’t the greatest swim and I didn’t hit that turn as well as I thought I should’ve,” he said. “Overall it was a good race besides that so I can’t complain.”

The junior was named the swimmer of the meet for the second year in a row, and also helped lead East’s 400-yard freestyle relay to a fourth place finish with a time of 3:19.73. East finished in seventh place with 115 team points, the highest of area schools.

Senior Cooper Cole finished seventh in the 50 free (22.13) and sophomore Jackson Kleeman finished eighth in the 100 butterfly (53.98). Bell, Cole, Kleeman and Will Weiford teamed up for a fourth-place finish in the 400 free relay.

“I’m happy with how we did as a team, I am proud of my fellow teammates and proud to be on the same team as them,” said Bell.

Now Bell will look to repeat as a state champion in both races in his senior season, and has his sights set on breaking both state records.

“It’s going to take a lot of extra work in the gym and the pool and sacrificing a lot of free time but that’s part of the gig,” he said. “There were a lot of things I could’ve fixed at this meet but it’s just a meet and I’m going to learn from these mistakes.”

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