2013santaclara Ryan Lochte
Courtesy of: JD Lasica
LAS VEGAS, Nevada, August 19. RYAN Lochte told the media at the world championships that he was serious about training from now through the 2016 Olympic Games, but the road to Rio apparently includes a stopover in Las Vegas, where the Olympic champion celebrated his 29th birthday this weekend.

Lochte has made this trip to Vegas an annual tradition, bringing along his teammates to help celebrate. Cullen Jones, who Lochte has described as his best friend, is a regular guest of Lochte at the Azure Pool in the Palazzo Hotel. Lochte's birthday is on August 3, which usually falls during major competition, as it did this year.

Lochte had pretty much made his visits to Las Vegas outside the media spotlight, but last year's extreme exposure during and after the Olympics changed that. Challenging British Prince Harry to a race in the hotel pool, which Lochte did last year, will also grab the eye of the media.

Lochte and Jones visit the Azure pool (video courtesy 24kMedia):

Reports indicate that Lochte didn't confine himself to the Palazzo for the weekend. He also stopped by the Tao nightclub, where staff and visitors greeted him with signs and a birthday cake.

Lochte's set to make some major changes to his training, as he announced in Barcelona that he's going to move to new locations, including the elite team at SwimMAC Carolina.