CHATHAM, NJ – In the strangest of seasons, the Chatham boys swim team managed to achieve some lofty goals by swimming against visible and mostly invisible opponents.
The majority of the swims were virtual because of the pandemic, with the competition swimming in a separate pool and the comparison of times deciding the winner. Two meets included in-person competition. Still, the Cougars got their biggest inspiration by swimming against the best in Chatham history, out-performing past Chatham teams from 2010 and 2008.
First-year head coach Laura Hartnett put the idea about breaking a school record in their heads early in the season.
“Coach Laura, maybe the first time I met her, she had a sheet with all our times,” Chatham junior Kyle Beebe said. “She was super prepared and said, look at this, you’re this close to this record. If you guys split your best times, you will get this time. We were like, all right, let’s see if we can do it. We don’t know what the season entails, so let’s see what we can do.”
After winning its first eight dual meets, the Chatham boys were heading into the final week with no state tournament to look forward to, just the end of a possible undefeated run.
That all changed on March 23 in a virtual meet vs. Parsippany Hills. The Chatham 400 freestyle relay team of Ryan Snarr, Mark Albarez, Matthew Stryszak and Kyle Beebe clocked 3:18.64, breaking the 2010 school record set by Paul Bender, Kevin Greener, Adam Weinbrom and MIchael Strand of 3:21.82.
One day later, during an in-person meet against Delbarton at the Wardlaw-Hartridge pool in Edison, Chatham’s 200 medley relay team of Ryan Snarr, Jack Bigham, Atticus Chang and Kyle Beebe touched in 1:40.42 to break the school mark of 1:41.24 set in 2008 by Michael Strand, Jonathan Bender, Zander Fife, and Adam Weinbrom.
The bookends on both those record-breaking relays were leadoff swimmer Snarr, a sophomore, and junior anchor Beebe.
Ryan Snarr and Kyle Beebe are the Chatham Wealth Management Athletes of the Week.
“It was kind of bleak at that point, the season was coming so close to the end,” Beebe said of the mood entering the final week. “The records were definitely a highlight. We had amazing swims and broke two records.”
In the 400, Snarr got Chatham off to a fast start with a 49.16 split and Beebe secured the record with a 47.78 anchor leg.
“These two boys surprised me,” Hartnett said. “I had very little data to go on. Ryan is a solid, dependable swimmer making him a great asset to the team. I am looking forward to watching him grow as a swimmer and teammate over the next couple of seasons.
“Kyle is a strong, confident swimmer who is always ready to swim his best to meet both individual and team goals. He is a great teammate both in the pool and on the deck.”
Hartnett managed to arrange a final in-person meet against Delbarton and, even though Chatham lost, 86-84, to end at 10-1, the upside was that the competition produced the medley relay record. Snarr led off with the backstroke, Bigham swam the breaststroke, Chang the butterfly and Beebe the free.
As a bonus, Strand, the All-America who put Chatham boys swimming on the map, emailed the coach to congratulate the team for breaking the records.
“I knew the name Michael Strand from when I was younger,” Snarr said. “I remember seeing him swim.”
Hartnett forwarded the email from Strand to the team, which turned out to be the cherry on top for the record-breaking Cougars.
“Anyone associated with Chatham High swimming knows that he has quite a legacy,” Beebe said. “There is a shrine dedicated to him in the high school trophy case. It’s really hard to miss. You know the name if you’re a swimmer. That was really nice of him to reach out like that.
“The boys team is getting more serious. My teachers are congratulating me. It’s pretty exciting for the team/family to establish records that had been done here 11 years prior. I feel we can only get better from this point.”
The 2021 Chatham team compiled 100 points or more in eight of its meets, the lowest point total of that string being 104 in a win vs. Morristown.
“We had a lot of talent on this team, and it’s unfortunate for the seniors that we couldn’t compete in the state tournament,” Snarr said. “The next couple of years are going to be very good.”
Both Snarr and Beebe swim year-round for the Madison YMCA Mariners. Beebe has qualified to swim in the 100 and 200 freestyle the weekend of April 8 in the YMCA festival, which is a substitute for the nationals that were pared down because of the pandemic.
Editor’s note: The Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Chatham Wealth Management in recognition of the commitment a Chatham athlete has made to their sport, their school and their community. For over twenty years, Chatham Wealth Management has been committed to putting our clients first by crafting customized investment solutions. Call us at 973-635-4275 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss how we can help meet your financial goals. To learn more about our products and team, visit us at www.chathamwealth.com.