University of Alabama Student-Athletes Honor John Servati with Habitat for Humanity Weekend (Photo Gallery)

09-27-2014 MWSD Habitat for Humanity Brooke Elias Photo by Nicole Rodriguez

Photo Courtesy: UA Athletics

TUSCALOOSA, Alabama, September 27. Saturday morning practices are, for the Alabama swimming and diving team, the most concentrated and grueling of the week. It’s when the team puts in the most yardage, the hardest work and when the focus is the most intense.

The aftermath of such workouts usually includes lots of rest and recovery, but this Saturday was a different story. This Saturday, members of the men’s and women’s teams went straight from swimsuits and goggles to work boots and safety goggles, traveling just a few miles down University Boulevard from the Alabama Aquatic Center to the site of a Habitat for Humanity build.

This Habitat work day was more than just giving back to the community. This day was for John Servati, the Alabama swimmer who died while saving the life of another UA student last spring during the severe storms that swept through Tuscaloosa.

“John was a servant every day,” UA senior captain Phil Deaton said. “So we thought the best way to honor him, was through a day like today, serving others.”

So instead of heading home for a nap after practice, the team picked-up hammers, lumber and scaffolding and went to work.

“I’m usually pretty wiped out after a Saturday practice, but today, knowing we were doing this for John, I got a second wind,” Deaton said. “It’s heavy lifting, especially after this morning, but working for others and doing it in John’s memory makes it easier.”

Characterized as a “hero every day” by his coaches and teammates, Servati was both a fierce competitor and an active and caring member of the community around him.

“Whenever I moved into an apartment, John was the first one there to help carry boxes,” senior All-American Kaylin Burchell said. “Whenever anyone had a flat tire, or whenever anyone needed help with something, John was there. So this was a way for us to remember him and honor his spirit.”

And while the swimmers and divers capped off the two days of work on two different Habitat for Humanity building sites, more than 75 student-athletes from more than half the Crimson Tide’s teams stepped up to lend a helping hand, both for the community and in Servati’s memory.

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