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Kristen Hayden becomes 1st Black woman to win national diving title

The 23-year-old diver from New Jersey began the sport at age 10.
A Black woman in a yellow and black bathing suit grimaces as she twists headfirst into the water.
Kristen Hayden competes in the women's 3-meter springboard final during the U.S. Olympic Trials on June 12, 2021, in Indianapolis.Dylan Buell / Getty Images
/ Source: AP (Associated Press)

Kristen Hayden became the first Black woman to win a U.S. national senior title when she paired with Quinn Henninger for a victory in mixed synchronized 3-meter Monday at the USA Diving winter national championships.

Hayden, a recent transfer to Indiana University, and freshman Henninger took the lead on their third dive of the competition. Their next two dives earned mostly 7.0s and 7.5s for a total score of 286.86 points, three points ahead of Carson Tyler and Anne Fowler.

It was the first synchro competition together for Henninger and Hayden.

Hayden joined Mike Wright as the only Black divers to win U.S. national titles. Wright won on 1-meter springboard in 2012.

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

Hayden is the first Black American diver to earn a bid to the world championships in May in Japan. She was a team member at the 2016 junior worlds.

She is a founding member of USA Diving’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. The 23-year-old diver from Hillsborough, New Jersey, began the sport at age 10.

Hayden will also compete in 3-meter synchro with partner Margo O’Meara, as well as the individual 1-meter and 3-meter events.