Mongolian National Record Holder Erkhes Enkhtur Blossoming at SPIRE Academy

Erkhes Enkhtur has been on a record-breaking spree during his sophomore year at SPIRE Academy.

After arriving last August at the boarding school in Geneva, Ohio, the 15-year-old Mongolian backstroke specialist lowered his own national records in the 50-meter backstroke and 100 back twice last month.

First Enkhtur attended the 2024 World Championships in Doha, Qatar, clocking Mongolian standards in the 50 back (26.72) and 100 back (58.89) that lowered his previous marks of 26.94 and 59.22 from last year. Then he posted more lifetime bests a couple weeks later at the Asian Age Group Championships in the Philippines, going 26.21 in the 50 back and 58.50 in the 100 back during prelims.

SPIRE head coach Thad Schultz told SwimSwam that Enkhtur came to his program last fall as a sprint specialist with tons of underwater dolphin kicking potential thanks to natural ankle and back flexibility. His training this season has been focused on technical improvements to his stroke — like adjusting his head position during breakouts — and learning about race strategy for longer distance events. Since Enkhtur’s underwater are so strong, Schultz has also been encouraging him to shoot for at least 10 meters off each wall before coming up for air.

“The focus was mostly 50s in Mongolia — he didn’t have experience with some of the longer swims,” said Schultz, who spent time coaching collegiately at Clemson, Ohio State, and Penn State. “A lot of his habits come from up-tempo swimming, but I think his strength is going to be the 200 back when it’s all said and done. We’re working on getting him the confidence to take the 200 back out fast and having confidence in his training to bring it home.”

Schultz said Enkhtur is generally a quiet kid, so his splashy celebrations are extra fun to watch because they come from a genuine place.

“He’s fun to watch in practice when he impresses himself; he jumps and shouts and smacks the water around — that’s not his normal persona, so you can always tell when he’s happy with his swim,” Schultz said. “It’s always fun to watch.”

Enkhtur didn’t talk much the first few months in Ohio as he learned English, but his proficiency has been improving this semester so he can talk with college coaches during the recruiting process.

“He’s a great teammate, supportive of everybody,” Schultz said. “He’s a super smart student of the sport, which is helpful. He grasps concepts quickly and jumps onto things at a really good pace. He’s coachable, teachable.”

He didn’t talk much his first few months, but that’s because his English wasn’t phenomenal. He’s getting a lot better at that, that’s been a focus since we want to be able to talk with college coaches.

Enkhtur is still a few seconds outside of Paris 2024 Olympic qualifying range, but Schultz sees LA 2028 in his future.

“He wants to race that level of competition on the international stage,” Schultz said.

Swimming does not have a particularly high profile in Mongolia, where the largest pool in the country is a five-lane, 25-meter facility in the capital of Ulaanbaatar. Mongolia has never medaled at either the World Championships or the Olympics.

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Michael Mooney
2 months ago

Descendant of ghengis khan

Reply to  Michael Mooney
2 months ago

A shockingly high % of the world is.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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