"I just overexaggerate part of it, the very first part. I was very intoxicated," he told Brazil's main broadcaster, Globo. "I was a a little frightened, having a gun pointed to you.
"My mistake was overexaggerating what really happened," he said.
When he was asked whether he thought he was lying, he said, "I wasn't lying to a certain extent. I overexaggerated what was happened."
Lochte claimed during the games that he and three other U.S. swimmers were held up — with a gun cocked and pointed at his forehead — after leaving a party in Rio.
He has since backpedaled, telling NBC News' Matt Lauer in a clip posted online that although a gun was drawn during the incident, it was not pointed at his head.
"That didn't happen," he said. "The gun was drawn but not at my forehead."
Police said Lochte's story was a fabrication and that the Olympians were not robbed and were not victims. Rather, they alleged that the Olympians vandalized a bathroom at a gas station and were confronted by armed security guards.
In the interview with Lauer, Lochte, who returned home to Charlotte, North Carolina, appeared to concede that he knew that the guards were demanding payment for the damage done, not robbing them.
"Yeah, so then we had to give the money," he told Lauer. But he also said he "couldn't answer" whether the men were being robbed.
Lochte, who said he "had too much to drink" that night, maintained that he and the other athletes were frightened because a gun was involved.
Police in Rio de Janeiro recommended that Lochte and his teammate James Feigen be charged with false reporting. Feigen donated approximately $11,000 to a Brazilian charity to avoid prosecution.
The two other swimmers involved, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz, returned home after giving statements to police and alleged that Lochte pulled a sign off a wall at the gas station, sparking a confrontation with armed guards.
In a previous statement, Lochte apologized for his behavior and said that he was traumatized by being out in a foreign country with a language barrier and having a stranger point a gun at him and demand money.
ABC News' Tom Liddy and David Caplan contributed to this report.