Katie Ledecky after setting a new world record -- in the heats --  in the 1500 free // Getty Images

Katie Ledecky after setting a new world record -- in the heats -- in the 1500 free // Getty Images

Swimming

An indisputable U.S. swim bright spot: Katie Ledecky

KAZAN, Russia — For Katie Ledecky, every single race on the big stage becomes an opportunity to make the superbly difficult look so easy.

On Monday, in the preliminary rounds of the women’s 1500 freestyle, the 30-lap race that swimmers call the mile, Ledecky broke her own world record, touching in 15:27.71, 65-hundredths faster than she had gone last August at the Pan Pacific championships in Australia.

Katie Ledecky with her 400 free gold // Getty Images

Katie Ledecky with her 400 free gold // Getty Images

Swimming

No Michael Phelps but Katie Ledecky is so good

KAZAN, Russia — No Michael Phelps but when you have Katie Ledecky, you get records. So maybe the only ones happier than Ledecky after she set a world championships record Sunday night in the 400-meter freestyle was, well, everyone who  wondered, exactly, what this meet would be like without Phelps, the one and only.

All sports need big stars, and in the absence of Phelps, beyond doubt the biggest name in swim history, Ledecky showed Sunday — again — why she is one of the most gifted, truly thrilling athletes in the Olympic scene.

Katie Ledecky, right, with a fan at the Mesa Grand Prix earlier this year // photo Getty Images

Katie Ledecky, right, with a fan at the Mesa Grand Prix earlier this year // photo Getty Images

Swimming

Katie Ledecky version 2014

The wall-to-wall coverage of the soccer World Cup has tended to obscure what the American swimmer Katie Ledecky did at a low-key meet that concluded Sunday near Houston. It shouldn’t.

It isn’t just that Ledecky set two world records in the 1500 and 800, the two women’s freestyle races that for decades featured records impervious to change. She won across the board — 1500, 800, 400, 200, 100. It has been more than 40 years since Australia’s Shane Gould held every women’s freestyle record, from the 100 up to the 1500. (The 50 didn’t come until later.) That is borderline preposterous. Then again, so is what Ledecky did this weekend.

Lotte Friis of Denmark, Katie Ledecky of the United States and Lauren Boyle of New Zealand with their 1500-meter medals // Getty Images

Lotte Friis of Denmark, Katie Ledecky of the United States and Lauren Boyle of New Zealand with their 1500-meter medals // Getty Images

Swimming

15:36.53 to make a change

BARCELONA — It is 29 years since Joan Benoit ran the marathon at the Los Angeles Summer Games.

Women now compete at the Summer Games in wrestling and boxing. At the 2012 London Games, every national Olympic committee in the world — finally — sent female competitors. The U.S. team was more than 50 percent female.