Katie Ledecky sealed her 15th individual world title with victory in the women's 1,500m final ©Getty Images

Seven-time Olympic champion Katie Ledecky of the United States claimed a record-equalling 15th individual swimming gold at the World Aquatics Championships by winning the women’s 1,500 metres freestyle title in Fukuoka.

Ledecky continued her dominance in the event that stretches back to 2013 as she won it for the fifth time in her glittering career.

Italy’s Simona Quadarella was Ledecky’s biggest threat having triumphed in 2019 when the American swimmer withdrew from the final.

But there was no stopping Ledecky as she powered to victory by 17 seconds after clocking a time of 15min 26.27sec.

Ledecky’s 15th individual world title matches the record set by American great Michael Phelps.

"I’m just really enjoying swimming right now, especially my distance events," said Ledecky who owns 20 world gold medals overall, in a report by NBC.

"I feel like I’m getting better each time I swim them.

"That’s what you love to see.

"You love to see improvement and that’s been my biggest goal over the last couple of years."

Quadarella had to settle for silver in 15:43.31 as China’s Li Bingjie earned bronze in 15:45.71.

There was double delight for the US as four-time Olympic champion Ryan Murphy captured the world men’s 100m backstroke crown for the first time.

Murphy, a winner over the distance at Rio 2016, overcame the in-form Thomas Ceccon of Italy to clinch victory in 52.22

Defending champion Ceccon was looking to back up his win in yesterday’s men’s 50m butterfly final but was beaten to the wall by Murphy as he picked up silver in 52.27.

Hunter Armstrong joined compatriot Murphy on the podium after securing bronze in 52.58.

Matt Richards topped a British one-two in the men’s 200m freestyle final to seal his first world title.

The Worcester swimmer pipped reigning Olympic champion and team-mate Tom Dean to finish to take the win in 1:44.30.

Dean finished just short in 1:44.32 as he earned silver, while South Korea’s Hwang Sun-woo clocked a national record of 1:44.42 for bronze.

London 2012 gold medallist Rūta Meilutytė ended her 10-year wait for a second women’s 100m breaststroke title after a stunning performance.

A time of 1:04.62 saw her clinched gold as South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker bagged silver in 1:05.84 and Lydia Jacoby of US finished in 1:05.94 for bronze.

Kaylee McKeown delivered Australia’s fifth gold in the pool after clocking a Championship record time of 57.53 to win the women’s 100m backstroke title.

The three-time Olympic champion overcame the American challenge of Regan Smith and Katharine Berkoff who posted 57.78 and 58.25 respectively for the other two podium spots.

The men’s water polo competition continued with title holders Spain beating France 7-6 to seal their place in the semi-finals.

Spain will next face Hungary who edged the US 13-12 in a pulsating quarter-final.

Double Olympic champions Serbia were taken to a penalty shootout where they defeated Italy 4-3 after the match was locked at 11-11 at the end of normal time.

Greece will be Serbia’s semi-final opponents after defeating Montenegro 10-9.