The sound of freedom is loud and proud for one Myrtle Beach swim coach

Freedom. What does the word mean to you?

Many will agree that freedom means living in a free country. Some, although will not admit it, take this luxury for granted because they cannot imagine NOT living in a free society. Since, freedom, is all they ever knew.

But for millions, the struggle is real to get a taste of what Americans enjoy every day of our lives. Many have spent sleepless nights dreaming about the day they can call the United States of America home.

“I love America, God Bless America. It upsets me sometimes when people take for granted their freedom,” said Eleonora Rumbaugh, swim coach at Claire Chapin Epps Family YMCA in Myrtle Beach. “They just think they are entitled to everything. At home, we have to work hard to get the small things.”

Rumbaugh was born in Bulgaria. She says she had a wonderful childhood, but it was when she became an adult that she realized her country changed.

“I started realizing that our country was not as great anymore. There was corruption, and there was a lot of crime,” said Rumbaugh. “When I went to college, I just felt that was my country, but that is not where I wanted to live anymore and build a family.”

So, she decided to pursue her dream to make a better life for herself and move to the United States of America.

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Nora Rumbaugh works    with Chip Parrot at the Claire Chapin Epps Family          YMCA in  Myrtle Beach.     Photo: Sharon Tutrone

Rumbaugh’s passion is swimming. It was that passion which turned out to be her golden ticket to freedom. She has been swimming since kindergarten and competitively for ten years.

“I came here on a student visa; it’s called a J-1. It gives a lot of opportunity to students to see how the lifestyle is here, to work here, to travel as well,” said Rumbaugh. “Once I got here, I said that was it. I love that country, and I decided to stay.”

A short time later the American Red Cross contacted the Bulgarian Red Cross, which Rumbaugh belonged since she was a lifeguard on the Black Sea. When Red Cross officials asked if she wanted to go to the United States to become a lifeguard, she jumped at the opportunity.

“I said that’s my dream so let’s go,” said Rumbaugh.

Rumbaugh arrived in America in 2003 and was sworn in as a United States citizen in 2011.

“That was the happiest moment in my life. We got sworn in, in Charleston and I just cried through the whole ceremony,” said Rumbaugh. “The process was tough, but everything was worth it because that was the best moment of my life.”

Today you will find Rumbaugh sharing her love for swimming by teaching others.

One of those learning from Rumbaugh is Triathlete Chip Parrot.

“Her confidence in me is what made me want to work hard,” said Parrot. “She is passionate about what she does which makes me want to work hard.”

Parrot had to face his fears before stepping into the water, and he had to learn to trust Rumbaugh.

“When we first started, I wanted to tell her that I haven’t been in the water for a long, long time and she smiled and said everything is going to be fine,” said Parrott. “I needed to hear that because it is intimidating to get in the water, especially to swim laps, not just playing around.”

While Rumbaugh is thankful to call the United States home, Parrot is grateful that she worked hard to get here. Because without her passion for swimming, he would not be half the athlete he is today.

“I am very lucky and blessed to have her; we have a good time out there swimming,” said Parrot.

For more information on swim lessons at the Claire Chapin Epps Family YMCA click here.

Indoor cycling gives Parkinson’s patients hope in Myrtle Beach

Pedaling a bicycle may seem like a simple task, but it could change the life of someone living with Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s is a breakdown of the nerve cells in the brain. In time, the disease affects muscles throughout the body, leading to stiffness and slowing of movement.

A recent study done by the Cleveland Clinic showed a 35% reduction in symptoms just by pedaling a bicycle at 80-90 revolutions per minute.

“Exercise is like medicine. It just makes you feel better,” said Deanne Vinson, health and wellness director at Claire Chapin Epps Family YMCA.

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Pedaling for Parkinson’s coming to Claire Chapin Epps Family YMCA in Myrtle Beach in June. Photo: Sharon Tutrone

Beginning in June, the Claire Chapin Epps Family YMCA in Myrtle Beach will offer a Pedaling for Parkinson’s class aimed to help those living with the disease.

This is not like a typical spinning class. It is slower paced, and trained professionals are on hand watching every move.

“We’ll have trained nurses on staff, they will walk around and support the individuals on the bike and make sure they are working within their range,” said Vinson. “The goal is to have the individuals complete a continuous steady type movement with a slow progression of intensity.”

Pedaling on a bike can do more than just reduce the symptoms of the disease, it can also boost morale.

“It helps with mobility and aerobic capacity, so if they are going up and down the stairs, they don’t have to stop because they are winded,” said Tommy Smith, an exercise physiologist at Claire Chapin Epps Family YMCA. “Pedaling a bike helps in all aspects of their life.”

Many people come to Myrtle Beach to retire, so Vinson understands the importance of bringing a program like this to the YMCA.

“We have a lot of retirees here, a lot of those retirees as they age start experiencing some of these chronic diseases,” said Vinson. “It’s something that is going to be so beneficial not only for the YMCA but for the population of Myrtle Beach knowing that the Y has programs like this.”

To take part in the Pedaling for Parkinson’s program, the patient must be between the ages of 30-75 years and diagnosed with Idiopathic Parkinson’s disease.

The Pedaling for Parkinson’s program is free for the first eight weeks and then a membership at the YMCA is required.

For more information visit or