If you’re unfamiliar with the name Kristen Hayden, you should be. When the University of Indiana swimmer isn’t preoccupied with living her best life and casually demonstrating Black excellence on the springboard, she’s making history as the first Black woman to win a national diving title.
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.
For those wondering about that magical moment when Hayden ascended from merely a fierce competitor to an integral part of USA Diving history, look no further than this clip that the esteemed organization posted on its Twitter account:
“I don’t think words can even describe the feeling,” she said after making history. “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 setting that example, the 23-year-old is also a founding member of USA Diving’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. Additionally, she’s the first Black American diver to earn a bid to the upcoming world championships in May, which will take place in Japan. She also has some excellent advice she would give her younger self that other athletes following in her footsteps should appreciate.
“Everything happens for a reason, don’t give up and train hard,” Hayden said. “Every single day come in with a mindset of what you want to accomplish, look at the best, and never give up.”
Congrats, Kristen. You deserve.