By RICK PETERSON
Washburn Rural enters Thursday's city swimming championships as the two-time team champ, but the 2022 city meet has a chance to be one of the most competitive overall in recent seasons.
The Junior Blues cruised to their second straight title last season by a decisive 402.5-292.5 margin over runner-up Hayden, but perennial city stalwart Seaman had just one entry due to COVID-related issues.
Senior Nathen Trachta was a four-event gold medalist a year ago, winning both of his individual events while also swimming on a pair of winning relays as the Junior Blues won nine of 12 events.
Trachta took first in the 100-yard butterfly in 54.57 seconds and the 100 backstroke in 56.16 while also swimming on the 200 free and 400 free relays and Rural also got a city title from junior Cordell Dimick in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:10.59).
Luke Perkins was able to sweep his two individual events for Shawnee Heights last season in the city meet, taking first in the 200-yard individual medley (2:04.48) and 500-yard freestyle (5:07.88), and Perkins also swam on the T-Birds' winning 200 medley relay (1:54.03).
Heights returning standout Tanner Zerger was also a city champion in the 200 medley relay in 2021.
Topeka High finished third in the team standings in last year's city meet while Shawnee Heights was fourth.
Rural's Trachta, Dimick and Jalen Eilert were first-team All-City selections last season along with Heights' Perkins and Topeka High's Perry Payne.
The city meet will get under way with diving competition at 1:30 p.m., followed by the swimming events.