Up before dawn, swimmers are up practicing their long strokes and kicks to fire up their muscles at an outdoor pool.
The group is part of the Masters Swim Class at LifeTime Fitness with some gearing up for the 2016 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships this weekend.
For the first time, Omaha will host the two-day competition which features Olympic-distance and sprint events.
At the helm of the class at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday is Morgan Chaffin, who is no stranger to triathlons. Recently, she won third place in her age group at Ironman in Boulder, Colorado. The win qualified her for a spot at the world championship in Kona, Hawaii in October.
The science behind competing is foundational, Chaffiin says.
“You basically want to make the swimmer faster. You want to get them conditioned. So, the swim doesn't affect their bike as much when they get unto the bike and then do the run,” says Chaffin while sporting a bandage foot at the edge of the pool, giving instructions for each drill.
As for the competitors, age and fitness levels have no bounds.
Six years ago, Kris Story began competing. She was 51 years-old at the time. Story qualified for the Olympic-distance race on Saturday. Last year, she traveled for the USA Triathlon to Milwaukee. As an Omahan who has gone outside the state to compete, including the world championship in Kona, she is excited this year’s nationals is in her own backyard.
“I'm hoping to deal well on Saturday. I'd like to represent our city and represent our team and all of my co-training partners here,” Story says.
Her swim mate Paul Baltes also plans to compete for Sunday’s sprint event. Twice a week, for an hour long, he meets up with the masters class.
“I think as people we're capable of way more than we ever give ourselves credit for,” Baltes says.
The triathletes say every competitor was a beginner at one point and share a common denominator: what are you doing it for?
“I feel like I have to have a goal to work toward,” Baltes says. “Or it's too easy to roll over and hit that snooze bar and go back to bed and if I'm training for something it's motivation.