2014 Swammy Awards: Heart Of A Champion John Servati

Tony Carroll
by Tony Carroll 2

December 31st, 2014 News

To see all of the 2014 Swammy Award winners, presented by TYR, click here.

The “Heart Of A Champion” award is given to an individual or group that has shed a positive light on the sport of swimming that extends beyond competition results. This award is not necessarily given to the most successful athlete of the year, but to an individual or group that has demonstrated outstanding character outside of times and training.

2014 HONOREE: John Servati

When considering who to award the Heart Of A Champion Swammy to, there was one name that came to our minds above everyone else. That individual is former Alabama swimmer, John Servati.

In the early morning hours of April 29th, heavy storms rolled through the South, causing major damage in multiple states. Servati was taking shelter in a friends house in Tuscaloosa when a retention wall began to collapse. In a true act of selflessness, Servati held up the wall to allow his girlfriend to get away unharmed before the wall collapsed.

Servati, originally from Tupelo, Mississippi, was finishing his junior year at the University of Alabama. The 21 year-old made the dean’s list his freshman and sophomore years, and was also on Alabama’s SEC Championships team his first two years as a backstroker/middle distance freestyler.

Jake Reynolds (UA SW&D 2009-2013), a friend and teammate of John’s wrote a touching memoir in his honor. To read the full memoir, click here.

“John embodied everything good about a southern gentleman wrapped into one person: loyal, carefree, simple, authentic, steadfast, and loving.

John Servati did not let swimming define who he was. Better yet, he defined swimming through the type of teammate and competitor he was. While John’s legacy is cemented in Crimson and White, it extends far beyond the University of Alabama and far beyond swimming. John’s legacy is intermeshed in every life he touched and every person he graced with he smile. The sport of swimming and the University of Alabama just happen to be better because of John Servati.”

SwimSwam’s thoughts go out to Servati, his family, and the Alabama swimming family. John Servati truly did have the heart of a champion, and his legacy will always be remembered.


In no particular order

  • Lewis Coleman’s 100×100’s World Record – One of the most exciting stories out of the United Kingdom early this year was the World Record breaking 100×100 SCM freestyle relay organized by GBR World Class Development squad member, Lewis Coleman. Coleman organized a team of 100 athletes that included Olympians, celebrities, and age groupers; including Michael Jamieson, Rebecca Adlington, Andrew Willis, Sophie Allen, Caitlin McClatchey, Jazz Carlin, Hannah Miley, Siobhan O’Connor, Lauren Quigley and Fran Halsall,. The relay was inspired by Coleman’s mother, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in June of 2012. He told us that he “especially wanted the record to have a community feel to it and that of people coming together for a great cause.” The relay broke the record averaging 53.43 over all the 100’s to finish with a time of 1 hour, 29 minutes, and 3.78 seconds. They beat the previous record by more than 8 minutes (1 hr, 37min, :53).
  • Carmel High School Girl’s Team – After winning their 28th Indiana High School State Championship, two Carmel high school swimmers, Claire Adams and Katy Schlies, skipped their team celebration to stay behind and help clean up the IUPUI pool deck. Dave Thibodeau, the Facility Manager of the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis, IN, contacted us to share this story. The two swimmers were pushing garbage cans around the deck, picking up trash as they went along. When asked why they were doing that instead of celebrating with their team, their responses pleasantly surprised Thibodeau. Claire Adams, broke State Records in the 200 free (1:46.95) and the 100 back (52.97) in both prelims and finals as just a sophomore. She was also on both the National Record setting 200 and 400 yard freestyle relays. Katy Schlies was also a scoring member of the team, finishing 12th in the 500 freestyle (4:57.61). Both swimmers deserved to be celebrating with their team, but they told Thibodeau that the NAT shouldn’t have to clean up after their swimmers. They continued pushing the trash cans around the pool deck, past their team area, and did not stop until they made it a full lap around the pool. It’s a small thing, something that could have easily gone unnoticed, but something worthy of much laudation regardless.

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6 years ago

I somehow missed the story about Servati previously and it was truly heartbreaking to read how he died. But thanks to SwimSwam for honoring this deserving young hero and for creating this category of award, arguably the most important one of all, since the ultimate meaning and measure of a sport is how its athletes perform off the playing fields and out of the pool. Servati and the honorable mention athletes are the best among countless others who make me proud to be a former swimmer and still part of the swimming community, and one of the reasons I often post SwimSwam articles to share with my friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Again, thanks!

Reply to  liquidassets
6 years ago

I just noticed that the Swammy awards are presented by TYR, so the shout goes out to them as well!

About Tony Carroll

Tony Carroll

The writer formerly known as "Troy Gennaro", better known as Tony Carroll, has been working with SwimSwam since April of 2013. Tony grew up in northern Indiana and started swimming in 2003 when his dad forced him to join the local swim team. Reluctantly, he joined on the condition that …

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