To many, swimming at the collegiate level isn’t a big deal, but to a 21 year old man named John Servati, it was a way of life. This 21 year old man was killed during Monday evening’s tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. While he was a student-athlete, he will also be remembered as a hero. He was a vibrant young man, who always had the dream to swim for the Crimson Tide.
And boy did he swim, with an intensity that Alabama team captain Phillip Deaton called “amazing.”
As Monday night’s storm grew stronger and the tornado sirens began to go off, Servati did the right thing. He sought shelter with his girlfriend in the basement. What he didn’t expect was the retaining wall to give way. This young man held up the wall long enough for the love of his life to escape.
“John definitely had a genuine heart,” said Deaton, he was a carefree guy who always had this huge smile on his face.”
Servati was a three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member. He received his most recent honor just four days ago, and carried a 3.55 GPA in finance. He competed in three events at the 2013 SEC Championships
The pain is deeply felt throughout the city of Tuscaloosa. The tornado came three years and a day to the April 27, 2011 tornado that injured former Crimson Tide and now Jacksonville Jaguars long snapper, Carson Tinker, and killed his girlfriend.
An Alabama teammate of Servati tweeted that John’s mother wished only for two things: That her son would swim at the University of Alabama, and that someday he would die a hero. Her son has done just that.
There will be a vigil on Thursday night and I hope Calvary Baptist Church is filled to capacity.
Rest in Peace, John Servati! You truly are a hero.