Kristen Hayden, who hails from Hillsborough, New Jersey, makes history as the first Black woman to win a national diving title after recently securing her victory at the USA Diving Winter National Championships. What’s more, she is the first Black American to earn a bid to the world championships!
Hayden paired with Quinn Henninger for the mixed synchronized 3-meter springboard competition. The duo took the lead on their third dive and earned 7.0s and 7.5s on their next two dives totaling a score of 286.86 points, just 3 points ahead of their competitors Carson Tyler and Anne Fowler.
Hayden is now one of the only two Black divers to win the U.S. national titles, joining Mike Wright who won on the 1-meter springboard in 2012.
“I don’t think words can even describe the feeling,” Hayden said in a statement. “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.”
She will go on to team up with Margo O’Meara for the 3-meter synchro competition and she will compete in the individual 1-meter and 3-meter events as well.
Hayden, who was a team member at the 2016 Junior Worlds Championships, is qualified for the World Championships in Japan next year, making her the first Black American to achieve the feat.
The 23-year old diver started the sport at the age of 10. She is currently enrolled at Indiana University. She is also a founding member of USA Diving’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council.
Follow her on Instagram @KrisHayden !