By Tom Degun

rebecca_soni_19-09-11September 19 - Beijing 2008 Olympic swimming champion Rebecca Soni is currently visiting the UK as part of the Team USA Britain Bound tour which sees her and other top American athletes travel across Britain to spread the Olympic message.

The Britain Bound tour - a programme run by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) - is also designed to help top Americans familiarise the athletes with the area as they continue their preparations for the 2012 Games.

Breaststroke star Soni - who won three gold medals at the World Aquatics Championships in Shanghai last month - admitted she is excited to be in Britain and happy to be promoting the Olympics to young people in Britain.

"If you are young and watching the Olympics in your home country; I think that can have a huge impact on kids and what they want to be like when they are older," said the 23-year-old from New Jersey.

"The people that they see on TV - or if they are lucky enough, the people they get to see in person - can be real role models for them.

"I think that can really make a huge difference."

As part of the visit, Soni helped launch a new swimming initiative at the University of East London (UEL) last week.

The scheme, which represents the first part of the ASA's East London Beacon Programme, is a joint-investment between the ASA, the University of East London, the London Borough of Newham and Newham Swimming Club.

American breaststroker Soni - who will benefit from the world class sports science facilities at UEL through a partnership with the USA Olympic team during London 2012 - gave a talk to swimmers and students at the launch.

ASA head of talent development Nick Sellwood said: "The creation of this partnership is a ground-breaking opportunity to enhance and further develop swimming in Newham.

"This integrated club programme with the University of East London will provide opportunities for school-age and University swimmers to maximise their potential as an important part of the Beacon programme for East London."

Soni's trip also saw her visit the East London site where the US swimming team will hold a brief training camp just before the London 2012 Olympics, while she has also seen the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park where she will be aiming for Olympic medal success next year.

Other athletes involved in the Britain Bound tour include Paralympic discus and pentathlon gold medallist Jeremy Campbell, Olympic wrestling gold medallist Henry Cejudo, Olympic gymnastics gold medallist Nastia Liukin and double Olympic soccer gold medallist Heather Mitts.

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