Bloomington, Indiana- Four Indiana University divers earned their berths to the 2022 FINA World Championships in front of a hometown crowd on the first day of the 2021 USA Diving Winter National Championships.
The event kicked off with the Mixed Synchronized Platform competition. Freshman diver fresh off two medals at the 2021 Junior Pan American Games, Carson Tyler, paired up with 2021 NCAA Champion Tarrin Gilliland. The pair went head-to-head with Texas’s Janie Boyle and her partner, Lyle Yost, out of Ohio University. Tyler and Gilliland gained an early lead earning the highest scoring dives in the first four rounds. Their fourth dive, an Inward 3 1/2 Somersault Tuck, earned a score of 70.08. Ultimately, Tyler and Gilliland ended the five-round competition 14 points ahead of Boyle and Yost with a total score of 268.62 becoming the first divers of the meet to earn national titles and spots on the World Championship roster.
Tyler went on to immediately compete in the Mixed 3-Meter Synchronized event in which he placed second, he will continue his week with the Men’s Synchronized event, as well as the individual 3-Meter and 1-Meter competitions. Gilliland will compete in both Women’s Synchronized events.
The second event of the day was the Mixed Synchronized 3-Meter. During what eventually became a historic moment in USA Diving History, Indiana University Divers, freshman Quinn Henninger with recent transfer Kristen Hayden found themselves in a harrowingly close competition for the top spot with teammates Anne Fowler and Tyler fresh off his platform victory. Henninger, who was recently crowned 3-Meter Pan American Champion at the 2021 Pan American Games, and Hayden’s third dive, a Forward 3 1/2 Somersault Pike, placed them in the lead with a score of 66.96. Their next two dives earned them mostly 7’s and 7.5’s for a final score of 286.86 just three points ahead of Fowler and Tyler.
Hayden and Henninger’s win marked a historic moment in USA Diving history with Hayden becoming the first-ever Black female to win a Senior National title and the first Black U.S. Diver to earn a bid to the FINA World Championships. Hayden joins Mike Wright, who became the first Black National Champion in 2012 on the 1-Meter, in the history books.
“Quinn and I did awesome, we came in with an open mindset,” said Hayden about the event today, “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.”
“I don’t think words can even describe the feeling,” she continued when asked about becoming the first Black female National Champion, “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.”
Hayden, who is also a founding member of USA Diving’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council had this advice when asked what she would say to a younger version of herself, “Everything happens for a reason, don’t give up and train hard. Every single day come in with a mindset of what you want to accomplish, look at the best and never give up.”
Hayden will also compete in the Women’s 3-Meter Synchro with Margo O’Meara, as well as the Individual 1-Meter and 3-Meter Events. Henninger will compete in the Men’s 3-Meter Synchronized event as well as the individual 1-Meter and 3-Meter Events.
Competition will resume tomorrow at 10:00 am EST with the combined qualifying rounds of the Men’s 10-Meter Synchronized and Women’s 3-Meter Synchronized events with the finals being held at 4:00 pm EST. All events will be streamed live on USA Diving’s Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch Channels as well as on USA Diving’s website.
For a complete list of entries, visit: https://secure.meetcontrol.com/divemeets/system/meetinfoext.php?meetnum=7305
For more event information, visit: https://www.teamusa.org/USA-Diving/Events/2021/December/13/Winter-Nationals
To purchase tickets, visit: https://usadiving.ticketspice.com/2021-usa-diving-winter-national-championships
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