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Alabama swimmer killed in storm remembered as a hero

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TUSCALOOSA, AL - Members of the University of Alabama swimming and diving team kept in touch late Monday as severe weather approached Tuscaloosa.

"We had a group text going, we were all checking in on each other throughout the day," Alabama swimming and diving team captain Phillip Deaton said.  "I heard from him last night, then woke up this morning and heard the news."

The news Deaton heard, 21-year-old teammate John Servati was killed when a retaining wall in the basement of his residence collapsed on him.

"John as a teammate was just an incredible guy," Deaton said.  "He had just a genuine heart and cared about everyone of his teammates. I can definitely say that he's one of the best teammates I've ever had."

According to his teammates, many are calling Servati a hero. That retaining wall that collapsed, he held it up long enough for his girlfriend to escape without injury.

"John is a hero everyday," assistant coach James Barber said.  "This is a young man who volunteered to help me coach my son's baseball team last year.

"In fact he was going to start working with my son's coach pitched baseball team this week.  He was always quick to help you move that or this with any teammate."

A business major from Tupelo, Miss., Servati was a three-time member of the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll and a scorer at the SEC Championships.

Barber remembers their first meetinging.

"I emember John coming up and shaking my hand and telling me how great it was here and that he wanted to be a member of the Crimson Tide family," Barber said.  "I'll always remember John for the big smile, big heart and the big handshake."

"He pushed me as a swimmer and as a person, and I will miss him very much," Deaton said.

A Dean’s List student, Servati swam both the backstroke and freestyle events for the Crimson Tide.

Follow Kyle on Twitter: @kyle_burger

 

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