Aussie Ian Thorpe fifth amid comeback

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Five-time Olympic champion Ian Thorpe finished fifth in the 200-meter freestyle at the Victorian state championships on Saturday, his best result since coming out of a five-year retirement in a bid to swim at the London Games.

The 29-year-old Australian improved marginally on his morning heat time, finishing in 1 minute, 50.79 seconds, about 2.5 seconds behind winner Jarrod Killey.

Thorpe's old world record in the distance and his personal best was 1:44.06 set in 2001, a mark that stood for nearly six years.

On Friday, Thorpe missed the 100-meter freestyle final after finishing with the 13th-best time in the heats.

Thorpe retired in November 2006 and announced a comeback nearly a year ago, hoping to qualify for the Australian team, either individually or as a member of the 800-meter relay team. The Australian trials are in late March in Adelaide.

"This is the best I can swim at this stage, there's a lot I have to improve upon now," Thorpe said Saturday. "Technique-wise I wasn't very good tonight, I was a little bit rushed.

"I'll be as ready as I can be for the trials. If there is an ace, the ace is I have done it before. When it comes to big competitions, I find something else."

In his first meets back, Thorpe struggled at short-course (25-meter pool) World Cup meets in Singapore, Beijing and Tokyo in November.

Thorpe set 13 world records and won 11 world championship golds. He won the 200 and 400 free at the 2004 Athens Olympics in his last major international meet.