On the Job: Congress Park Pool Lifeguard

24-year-old Gabriel Larson has been swimming since he was a kid. Now he keeps others safe at Denver's largest public pool.

Photo by Jeff Nelson

It’s no exaggeration to say that swimming is in Gabriel Larson’s blood. The 24-year-old Denver native, who works as the head coordinator for Denver’s Congress Park Pool, was raised in a family that loves the water. “My dad was a pool supervisor for the City and County of Denver,” says Larson. “Both my sisters were lifeguards. I grew up with it.” Larson started lifeguarding at 14, competed on local swim teams as a kid, and now, as an adult, has followed in his father’s footsteps, managing one of the city’s most popular pools.

How long have you been swimming?
“My whole life. My dad managed the outdoor pool in Berkeley Park for 10 years or so, and my oldest sister, Anetria, was the pool supervisor for Berkeley Park as well. I was on the swim team at Berkeley when I was a kid, all the way up until high school, when I competed on the team at Wheat Ridge.”

What does your job entail?
“In the summer, I manage a staff of 20. I do pool maintenance, check pool chemicals, train staff, and do cash handling and bank deposits. Depending on how much staff we have on a given day, I’ll jump into lifeguard rotation, too! That’s probably about three days a week. I also teach swimming lessons. In the off-season, I work in the Denver Parks and Recreation Aquatics Office, where I review applications and reach out to potential new lifeguards, interview them, and register them for training classes.”

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What’s special about the Congress Park Pool?
“It’s the only 50-meter Olympic- sized pool in Denver, indoor or outdoor, that is managed by Denver Parks and Recreation.”

Have you ever saved anyone?
“We make active saves a couple times a week—little things, where people are in need of assistance and we jump in and take them over to the shallow end. It’s kids who can’t touch, or things like that. I personally make a couple of those each summer.”