Uncharted waters: Kristen Hayden becomes first Black woman to win U.S. national diving title

Hayden said historic achievement is ‘insane’

Kristen Hayden prepares for a dive in the women's 3-meter springboard final during 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials in June. In December, she made history by becoming the first Black woman to win a U.S. senior national title. Photo by Dylan Buell (Getty Images)

While the world’s attention is about to focus on the Winter Olympics when they start next week, one woman who competes in a Summer Olympics sport is rightfully basking in history.

In December, Kristen Hayden etched her name in the history books by becoming the first Black woman to win a U.S. senior national diving title.

A 23-year-old from Hillsborough, New Jersey who took up the sport at age 10, according to ESPN, Hayden teamed with Quinn Henninger to win the mixed synchronized 3-meter competition during the USA Diving winter national championships.

It was the first time that Hayden, a graduate student at Indiana University, and Henninger, a freshman at Indiana, competed in a synchro competition.

Hayden, who founded USA Diving’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, joined Mike Wright -- and they are now the only Black divers of any gender to win a U.S. national title.

Wright won the 1-meter springboard title in 2012.

“I don’t think words can describe the feeling,” Hayden said to USA Diving. “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 the process, Hayden also became the first Black American diver to earn a bid to the World Aquatics Championships, which will be held in Japan from May 13 to 29.


About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.