Kristen Hayden made history by becoming the first Black woman to win a senior national diving title on Monday, the first day of the 2021 USA Diving Winter National Championships.
Hayden, a recent transfer, and three fellow Indiana University divers competed in Bloomington, Indiana on Dec. 13. She secured her victory with her partner, freshman Quinn Henninger, in the mixed synchronized 3m springboard event.
Now, the four Indiana State University students are on their way to the 2022 FINA World Championships.
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It was “the first synchro competition together for Henninger and Hayden,” reports NBC Sports. The two divers scored a total of 286.86 points, three points ahead of their competitors Carson Tyler and Anne Fowler.
In addition to becoming the first Black woman to win a senior national diving title, Hayden’s victory on Monday also made her the only Black diver, besides Mike Wright, to win a U.S. national title overall. Wright won his title on the 1m springboard in 2012.
Hayden is now also the first Black U.S. diver to earn a bid to the FINA World Championships.
“I don’t think words can even describe the feeling,” the 23-year-old said of her history-making achievement. “You read about people like that, you watch Serena Williams, Simone Biles, Simone Manuel, but when it’s yourself, it’s insane. I think the whole diving community is headed in the right direction and I just want to be a good example for young Black Americans or any minority really for diving in the U.S.”
Being a Hillsborough, New Jersey native, Hayden began diving at ten-years-old. In 2016, she competed as a team member at the Junior Worlds.
Currently, the 23-year-old diver serves as a founding member of USA Diving’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council.
When asked about what advice she’d give to a younger version of herself, Hayden noted, “Everything happens for a reason, don’t give up and train hard. Every single day come in with a mindset of what you want to accomplish, look at the best and never give up.”
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