Meet Kristen Hayden: She Made History As First Black Woman to Win National Diving Title

by Gee NY
Image Credit: Getty Images

In an inspiring milestone, Kristen Hayden made history in 2022 by becoming the first Black woman to win a U.S. national senior diving title.

Hayden, who recently transferred to Indiana University, achieved this remarkable feat with her partner, Quinn Henninger, in the mixed synchronized 3-meter event at the USA Diving winter national championships.

Hayden and Henninger secured their victory with a stellar performance, taking the lead on their third dive and maintaining it through the competition.

Their final dives garnered impressive scores of mostly 7.0s and 7.5s, resulting in a total of 286.86 points, three points ahead of the second-place team of Carson Tyler and Anne Fowler.

Notably, this was the first synchro competition for Hayden and Henninger as a pair.

This achievement places Hayden alongside Mike Wright, who won the 1-meter springboard in 2012, as the only Black divers to clinch U.S. national titles.

Reflecting on her historic win, Hayden expressed her overwhelming emotions:

“I don’t think words can even describe the feeling. 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.”

Quentin Henninger and Kristen Hayden of Team United States compete in the Mixed Synchronized 3m Springboard Final on day four of the Budapest 2022 FINA World Championships at Duna Arena on June 29, 2022 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Hayden’s victory also marks her as the first Black American diver to earn a spot at the world championships, set to take place in May in Japan.

Hayden, who began diving at age 10 and hails from Hillsborough, New Jersey, was previously a team member at the 2016 junior worlds.

In addition to her groundbreaking achievements in the pool, Hayden is a founding member of USA Diving’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council, where she continues to advocate for greater representation and opportunities within the sport.

Looking ahead, Hayden will compete in the 3-meter synchro event with partner Margo O’Meara, as well as the individual 1-meter and 3-meter events, further showcasing her talent and determination.

Kristen Hayden’s historic win marks a significant personal triumph and serves as an inspiring example for young Black athletes and minorities in diving and beyond.

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