Indiana women’s graduate student diver Kristen Hayden became the first Black woman to win a national championship for USA Diving on Dec. 13 at Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatics Center in Bloomington.
She and her partner, freshman Quinn Henninger, won the mixed synchronized 3-meter dive with a score of 286.86 and earned a spot at the World Championships in Japan in May. This was their first time competing together.
“Quinn and I did awesome, we came in with an open mindset,” Hayden said in a press release. “We just wanted to have fun. Of course, we wanted to make the team but it was also our first time doing synchro together and we just wanted to do the dives the best we can.”
With her performance, Hayden also became the first Black diver from the U.S. to qualify for and earn a bid to the 2022 Fédération Internationale de Natation, or FINA, World Championships for diving. She was part of the 2016 Junior FINA World Championships team.
Outside of the pool, Hayden is a founding member of USA Diving’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. She began diving at 10 years old.
“I don’t think words can even describe the feeling,” Hayden said. “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.”
Indiana also took second place in the mixed synchronized 3-meter with sophomore Anne Fowler and freshman Carson Tyler, who finished with a score of 283.65.
The Hoosiers continued to dominate as sophomore Tarrin Gilliland and Tyler took gold in the mixed synchronized platform dive, earning a 268.62.
Hayden will also compete in the women’s synchronized 3-meter with Duke University freshman Margo O’Meara, and the individual 1-meter dive and 3-meter dive events.
The 2021 USA Diving Winter Nationals will continue through Dec. 18 at the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatics Center. More information can be found on USA Diving’s website.