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.

Swimming - 15th FINA World Championships: Day Sixteen

Swimming

Not just one super swimmer

BARCELONA — No, Michael Phelps did not swim even one stroke at the 2013 world championships. Yes, his presence hung over the meet — it being a year to the day that he touched the wall for the last time in the winning medley relay in London, as was helpfully noted in a Facebook post by the U.S. Olympic Team. Is he coming back? Who knows?

Whatever Phelps ultimately opts to do, keep at his golf game or again take the plunge, these championships, which wrapped up Sunday in memorable fashion, with the bang of the medley relays, will be long remembered because — if this is indeed the post-Phelps era — swimming now boasts not just one super-amazing swimmer.

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.