Ryan Lochte dishes on Vegas party with Prince Harry

Who needs Michael Phelps? Prince Harry is all the swimming competition Ryan Lochte needs.  

On TODAY Thursday, Lochte told Matt Lauer that Harry challenged him to a race in a nightclub pool last Friday, and the Olympian accepted. 

Lochte had never met the prince until the royal's entourage approached him that night.

"His people came over to my table and said, 'Prince Harry wants to meet you,'" he said. "I was like, 'Lets meet him.' I went over there. I was fully clothed, and he says, 'You want to race me in the pool?' I took off my shirt, jumped in and we started racing."

Lochte enjoyed his brush with royalty, which began and ended with their impromptu race.  

“He’s part of the royal family and everything, but he’s really a nice guy,’’ Lochte said. “He’s really talkative. He just wanted to meet me and honestly wanted to race me. I thought that was the coolest thing.’’

Only hours later, all of the prince’s clothes came off in a now-infamous strip-billiards incident that took place in a hotel suite. Lochte did not get the invite to play strip billiards with the prince and his friends.

“He never said anything like that,’’ Lochte said. “After our race and everything, we went our separate ways. I’m kind of happy. I don’t need that.’’  

Nightclub swims notwithstanding, Lochte, 28, said that these three weeks out of the water have been his longest break from the pool since he was 10 years old.

“After racing Prince Harry, I got that competitive edge back in me and I want to get back in the water,’’ Lochte cracked.

After celebrating his birthday and dabbling in acting on '90210,' Lochte is ready to start gearing up for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He said he will get back to training on Monday.

“Once I landed back in the States after London, I already had my goals in mind for Rio,’’ he said. “They’re a little different now. I can’t spill everything.’’

Lochte did let it slip that he will not be swimming the same events as he did in London, where he won two golds, two silvers and a bronze to bring his career total to 11 medals.

“Whenever I go up on the blocks, I don’t want to go for second or third, I want to win,’’ he said. “So I was definitely pleased and unpleased with some of my races, so hopefully I can change that in the next four years. I’m going to be swimming different events, that’s for sure. I’m getting older, my body’s getting older, so I can’t do those long events.’’

His outside interests in fashion, acting and other pursuits will not distract him from his training, Lochte said.

“Because of the training that I’ve been doing these past eight years, I have a good background, so I know that I’m able to do other things that I wasn’t able to do before so that leads to acting, doing who knows what,’’ he said. “The whole acting thing is definitely nerve-wracking. I can swim in front of 10,000 people, no problem, but acting, that’s a little hard.’’

More: Video: Prince Harry returns to London amid photo scandal 
Lochte: 'I'm going another four years' to Rio games 
Jeah! Lochte to guest star on '90210'