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.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 9.39.42 PM
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.

Myrtle Beach may have to go on a diet

Myrtle Beach is known for beautiful beaches, good food, southern hospitality and now as the 16th most obese out of a list of 100 cities, according to a study just released by

“I am not satisfied with my current size, and it is hard to love myself when I constantly get negativity from the people closest to me,” said Kaley Larimore, a college student.

Many like Kaley will try to shed the pounds by dieting or exercising. But for some teenagers, it is the parents who are taking a proactive approach.

“Usually the parents are aware the kids aren’t getting much physical activity in schools anymore,” said Cameron Sanders, a personal trainer.

Sanders feels the rise of technology is a contributing factor in the battle of the bulge.

“With social media and technology, you don’t ever have to leave the house to go anywhere or do anything,” Sanders said.

Sanders says parents taking the initiative is a good thing but presents a challenge for the trainers.

Cameron Sanders works with Kelly      McRae at the YMCA in Myrtle Beach.   Photo: Sharon Tutrone

“As a trainer, we have to find a way to motivate them to want to do it for themselves and not because their parents want them to do it,” Sanders said.

Sanders faced his own challenges growing up, and he remembers those struggles as he coaches his clients.

“When I was a middle school teenager, I was obese,” Sanders said. “I was a fat kid who loved his ice cream. That was all I ever had.”

He said he is glad when a client comes to him asking for help. He tried to help himself when he was a teenager but ended up doing more harm than good.

“I didn’t have anyone there to help and teach me,” Sanders said. “I taught myself out of magazines and books. But I suffered a lot of injuries because of it. I had no idea what I was doing. Now here I am in my mid-20s with a bad back, two bad shoulders. So, I just want to help them and be able to teach them.”

Sanders says the biggest challenge a teen working toward a better lifestyle might have to overcome is themselves.

“You have to tell them that what they are doing is going to help them overall. As they increase their appearance their motivation increases, as their motivation increases, they do well in all aspects,” Sanders said.

Washington is also taking notice of the obesity problem. The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act of 2017 was introduced in both the Senate and House.

According to, The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act addresses the obesity epidemic in the United States by providing more funding and better treatment options for healthcare professionals.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over a third of US adults, 36.5 percent are obese.

The top 20 fattest cities on the WalletHub list were located in South Carolina. Columbia, S.C. ranked Number 11, followed by the Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin metropolitan area.

The Augusta-Richmond County metropolitan area – which includes parts of the Palmetto State – held the number 19 spot.