Britain Bound: Soni Day 4

Sept. 18, 2011, 10:49 p.m. (ET)

Rebecca Soni wrapped up her time in Wales as a part of Team USA: Britain Bound with a final whirlwind day of sightseeing and exploring throughout the country. The Olympic swimmer is gearing up for the London 2012 Olympic Games, and her time in Wales left a lasting impression about what the Olympics host country has to offer.

Soni started the day with a well-earned soak in a misty, seaside infinity pool in Saundersfoot, melting away the swimming workout and adventure swimming she had done the day before. Her first adventure of the day was exploring the coastal getaway of Tenby, known for its ancient city walls, pastel buildings and stunning beaches. She was welcomed by the mayor himself wearing his full gold chains of office. Her next stop was at the National Botanical Garden of Wales, taking in the themed gardens full of 8,000 different plant varieties from around the world.

Her final site was at Tintern Abbey, a working monastery from the 10th-12th centuries, now a dramatic shadow of its past. Its towering walls and naves intact, the inside is blanketed by grass and opens up to the blue sky. It was a fitting spot to reflect on all of her incredible experiences with Team USA: Britain Bound. In her own words:

My emotions took over when: I first saw Tintern Abbey; it was so striking and magnificent

As an athlete, I could appreciate: the steaming, warm, infinity pool I relaxed in this morning overlooking the coast of Wales

My favorite local today was: the Mayor of Tenby, because he was so welcoming and had such character – after our chat he was on his way to his great granddaughter’s christening in the town church!

If you make it to Wales during the 2012 Olympic Games, don’t miss: The Pembrokeshire coast

The one thing I experienced every day during Team USA: Britain Bound was: the feeling of welcoming and kindness from all the people I met

Three words to describe Tintern Abbey: breathtaking, majestic, eerie

After experiencing Team USA: Britain Bound, my journey to the 2012 Olympics will now: be followed by a return trip to Wales

I never knew that: Wales is home to the largest single spanned glasshouse in the world, at the National Botanic Garden of Wales

Today, I indulged in: the local food, like Hobnobs for a snack (chocolaty, oaty biscuits) and fish pie for dinner. I loved learning about it all too.

The lasting impression I’ll take home from Wales: Sometimes you see pictures of a place before you visit, and it turns out to be not quite as impressive…  this trip was the opposite. Wales was so much more than I expected and is a place that must be experienced firsthand!