Missy Franklin, left, and Katie Ledecky on the medals stand after the 200 freestyle // photo Getty Images

Missy Franklin, left, and Katie Ledecky on the medals stand after the 200 freestyle // photo Getty Images

Swimming

Ledecky makes beautiful music in 200 free

Katie Ledecky took down Missy Franklin in the women’s 200 freestyle Thursday evening at the U.S. nationals in Irvine, California, and though both laughed and made all sweet about it because that’s how they are, and Franklin even danced on deck when the poolside announcer talked about the Backstreet Boys, this — when, years from now, they look back — may well be one of the Katie Ledecky signature moments.

Ledecky touched in 1:55.16, a full 1.24 ahead of Franklin. It was the second-fastest time in the world this year and, for Ledecky, a personal best. Which ought to give everyone pause, because Ledecky just turned 17 in March and has so far concentrated on the 400 and above. She simply has not raced the 200 much. As she learns the race, she probably will get a lot, lot faster.

Michael Phelps after finishing seventh in the men's 100 free at the U.S. nationals // photo Getty Images

Michael Phelps after finishing seventh in the men's 100 free at the U.S. nationals // photo Getty Images

Swimming

For one night, no Phelps magic

Before Michael Phelps had won even the first of his 22 Olympic medals he was, in 2003, the United States men’s national champion in the 100-meters freestyle.

The circle turns. It’s back to the future. Pick your metaphor as the 2014 U.S. nationals got underway in earnest Wednesday in Irvine, California, with Phelps stepping to the blocks for the finals of the 100 free.

Kendal Williams on Florida State signing day, flanked by grandfathers James Williams and Langston Austin // photo courtesy Williams family

Kendal Williams on Florida State signing day, flanked by grandfathers James Williams and Langston Austin // photo courtesy Williams family

Track and field

A sprint champion to want to believe in

Wouldn’t American track and field be so much better, goes the mournful refrain, if only there were a sprint champion everyone could actually believe in? Who wasn’t, you know, doped to the gills?

Maybe Kendal Williams doesn’t go on to run 9.57. But now that he has won the men’s 100 at the world juniors in Eugene, Oregon, maybe it’s time, too, to celebrate the very sort of young athlete everyone says they really want — but then hardly gives more than a moment to when he does exactly what they say they’re begging for.

Rafer Johnson with the torch at the 1984 30th anniversary party. That's Mary Lou Retton at the right // photo courtesy LA84 Foundation

Rafer Johnson with the torch at the 1984 30th anniversary party. That's Mary Lou Retton at the right // photo courtesy LA84 Foundation

Los Angeles 1984

Sustainability? Legacy? LA 1984 revisited

No one likes I-told-you-so’s, and if there is a good lord up above, he — or she — knows full well that others find it tiresome, indeed, to hear Americans boasting about anything.

So this is not — repeat, not — that column. There’s no point. At the same time, it’s just plain dumb to ignore reality. So, now, with International Olympic Committee extolling a renewed commitment to “sustainability” and “legacy,” and with the true believers this week celebrating the 30th anniversary of the 1984 Games that changed everything, it’s entirely reasonable to look anew at those Los Angeles Olympics. Because they didn’t just save the modern Olympic movement — they set the standard for sustainability and legacy, too.