Kristen Hayden made history by becoming the first Black woman to win a U.S. national senior title in diving, CBS Sports reports. She is also the first Black U.S. diver to earn a bid to the FINA World Championships.
Hayden, along with partner Quinn Henninger, won in the mixed synchronized 3-meter Monday at the USA Diving winter national championships.
During the competition, the duo earned a total score of 286.86 points, three points ahead of runner-ups Carson Tyler and Anne Fowler.
Hayden joined Mike Wright, who won on the 1-meter springboard in 2012, as the only Black divers to win U.S. national titles.
That moment @kristen_hayden made history. She just became USA Diving’s FIRST Black female National Champion and the FIRST ever Black U.S. Diver to qualify for the @fina1908 World Championships. We are so proud of Kristen and her synchro partner @HenningerQuinn 😭 pic.twitter.com/mXIoAXg02N— USA Diving (@USADiving) December 13, 2021
In an interview with Team USA, she expressed her excitement about her historic accomplishment.
“Quinn and I did awesome, we came in with an open mindset,” Hayden said.“We just wanted to have fun. Of course, we wanted to make the team but it was also our first time doing synchro together and we just wanted to do the dives the best we can.”
“I don’t think words can even describe the feeling,” Hayden continued. “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.”
In addition to her swimming prowess, Hayden is a founding member of USA Diving’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council which is “committed to providing increased access and opportunities to diving for communities of color, the LGBTQ community, and those of all genders and gender identities.”
At the world championships, Hayden will also compete in the 3-meter synchro with partner Margo O’Meara, as well as the individual 1-meter and 3-meter events.
When asked what she would say to her younger self, Hayden gave an inspirational response.
“Everything happens for a reason, don’t give up and train hard,” she said. “Every single day come in with a mindset of what you want to accomplish, look at the best, and never give up.”