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'Laps of Love' product of friendly rivalry between local swim clubs

| Thursday, July 17, 2014, 3:27 p.m.
Patrick Varine | Penn Hills Progress
From the left, in front are Jenna Messenger, Chris Fenoglietto, Morgan Bush, Lewis Fenoglietto and Jake Saltzman. In back are Corey and Devin Messenger.

Highlands Aqua Club and Rosedale Beach Club have an ongoing friendly rivalry.

Swim teams for the two private pool clubs compete with one another every year, and while they also compete against clubs from Murrysville and Plum, there seems to be a special affinity for going up against another Penn Hills team.

“Last year we met in the championships, and it was neck-and-neck to the very end,” said Lewis Fenoglietto, 21.

Fenoglietto is a prime example of the curious “cross-pollination” that has happened between the two clubs the past few seasons.

He grew up swimming and working at Highlands; now he is in his second year as a Rosedale coach.

Jenna Messenger, 19, swam and worked as a lifeguard for Highlands. She now also is a Rosedale coach.

Jake Saltzman, 19, swam and coached Rosedale and is a Highlands lifeguard.

“As a pool that's near our 90th anniversary, we joke that we've outlived Forbes Field, Three Rivers Stadium, Pitt Stadium and the Civic Arena, and Highlands is our ‘baby sister,'” said Rosedale board member Daryl Saltzman.

“We've helped each other through some very rough times and those favors have cemented our closeness.”

The kids agreed.

“We're all like a big family,” said Morgan Bush, 22, one of the few in the coaching and lifeguarding group to have spent all her time at Highlands.

“Deep down we really love one another.”

That love shows in the playful kidding constantly happening within the group.

It also shows in the “Laps for Love” event, which will see Rosedale Beach Club hosting a fundraiser for Susan G. Komen Pittsburgh.

Swimmers will complete laps and collect per-lap donations that will be put toward breast-cancer research.

“Any swimmers or family can come sign up for it,” Messenger said.

“Laps for Love” will take place Tuesday from 2 to 8 p.m.

Saltzman said the event is not new; it has taken place in the past, with both clubs hosting, but was brought back this year after the group found out a friend's mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

In keeping with the group's spirit of fun, any swim team member who earns $40 or more in donations will get to throw a water balloon at a coach at the annual banquet.

Devin Messenger, 16, who swims for Highlands, said he really enjoys being part of the group.

“After swim meets, we always go out to dinner or to someone's house,” he said.

“We're around each other 24/7,” Fenoglietto said.

Corey Messenger, 21, who lifeguards, swam and coached at Highlands, said in addition to having fun, “we always try to get together or go to one another's swim meets.”

Fenoglietto's mother, Becky, said the rivalry has been friendlier some years than others, “but definitely in the past few years, we've moved away from the ‘rivalry' part and focused on the ‘friendly.' ”

For more information, a donation pledge sheet, or to sign up to participate, call the Rosedale Beach Club at 412-793-1782 or visit Rosedalebeachclub.com.

Patrick Varine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or pvarine@tribweb.com.

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