Indiana University’s Kristen Hayden wrote her name in the history books on Monday when she became the first Black woman to win a U.S. national senior title. According to the Associated Press, Hayden and her partner, Quinn Henninger, came up tops in the mixed synchronized 3-meter event at the USA Diving winter national championships.
Hayden, 23, and Henninger climbed up to the first position on their third dive of the event. They then largely scored 7.0s and 7.5s for their subsequent two dives. Their total score was 286.86, and that was three points clear of their immediate opponents.
Up until Hayden’s history-making feat, Mike Wright was the only Black diver to win a U.S. national title. That was in 2012 after he won on 1-meter springboard. Hayden’s victory now means only two Black divers have won a U.S. national title.
“I don’t think words can even describe the feeling,” said Hayden. “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.”
Besides that feat, Hayden also became the first Black American diver to secure a spot at the 2022 World Aquatics Championships in Japan. Hayden was part of the team that participated at the 2016 junior worlds, the Associated Press reported.
Hayden, who took up the sport when she was 10 years old, is one of the founding members of USA Diving’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council.