Diver Makes History As First Black Woman To Win Nationals
Diver Kristen Hayden made history this month when she became the first Black woman to win a U.S. national senior title in the mixed synchronized 3-meter at the USA Diving Winter National Championships.
On Monday, Dec.13, the 23-year-old Indiana University transfer was paired with fellow diver Quinn Henninger when they beat out their diving competition to take home the national title. The win, which was the first joint competition for the duo, struck a particular chord for Hayden, who is now the “first Black American diver to earn a bid to the world championships,” in May in Japan, reports ESPN.
In a statement, she said: "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."
A diver since the age of 10 and a founder member of USA Diving’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council, Hayden also shared her excitement on Instagram. In an emotional post full of images of the exciting win, both before and after, Hayden credits Henninger for helping her make history.
“The first black female National Champion in the U.S. and first black U.S. diver to qualify for the FINA World Championships! I feel so #blessed and grateful to obtain this title. This road has not been easy, but boy is it worth it! I cannot wait to see what comes next! WE ARE GOING TO JAPAN!!” she wrote.
Hayden’s win is a huge step toward seeing better representation in the world of swimming. A study from 2017 conducted by the USA Swimming Foundation revealed the disparity between people of color, specifically African Americans and white people in USA Swimming. Notably, at the time, they estimated that African Americans accounted for 1 percent of swimmers registered with the organization.