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Kristen Hayden’s diving reign is just getting started.

The 23-year-old Hillsborough, New Jersey native just accomplished two firsts in the black community.

On Monday, she became the first Black woman to win a U.S. national senior title. The first Black man to win the national senior title, was University of Tennessee’s Michael Wright back in 2010. This win also grants her the title of the first black U.S. diver to qualify for the FINA World Aquatics Championships. The FINA World Aquatics Championships have been around since 1973, and no one else has been able to achieve it.

She won the title in the mixed synchronized 3-meter event, during the USA Diving Winter National Championships. This event includes bring paired with a male partner, as the party of two dives extravagantly into the deep end. Freshman Quinn Henninger was designated to play the role of that partner.

Nevermind the fact that Kristen had just transferred to Indiana University after spending time at the University of Minnesota.

Nevermind the fact that Kristen had placed 4th and 5th in two women’s springboard events, at the recent U.S. Olympic Diving Trials this past June.

Nevermind the fact that the two Indiana Hoosiers have never paired with each other in competition before that day.

The mostly unknown pairing still got the job done. They finished with a score of 286.86, just a mere 3 points from runner-up divers Anne Fowler and Carson Tyler.

Once Quinn and Kristen realized that they’ve won, a kind embrace of joy began.

 

Kristen had a chance to speak with the media after her historic win.

 

ABC8 Sports – Kristen Hayden Feature

She even provided more perspective to the press on her journey.

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.

 

Kristen Hayden is also a founding member of U.S. Diving’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, along with Michael Wright. She will be competing at the FINA World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan of May 2022. Representation matters and more black excellence is on the way.

You watch the replay of the Kristen’s historic win below. I made sure the video starts at the 1:04:18 mark, so you can skip all the previous pleasantries.

USA Diving – Mixed Synchro-Diving Finals

 

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