HOBART, Australia (AP) _ Triple Olympic champion Ian Thorpe missed breaking his world record in the 400-meter freestyle by .17 seconds Saturday at the Australian swimming championships.

Thorpe finished in 3 minutes, 40.76 seconds to become the first Australian man since John Konrads in 1961 to win at that distance for the fourth consecutive year.

His swim was the second fastest of his career behind last year's Sydney Olympic gold medal victory in 3:40.59.

Thorpe said he was relieved to be swimming again at nearly his Olympic form.

``There's always a question mark there,'' he said. ``I knew that things were going well for me. But until you step up onto the blocks and until you go in there and race, you're never 100 percent sure on what you're doing.''

The 18-year-old Aussie has set 11 world records since competing as a 14-year-old at the 1997 Pan Pacific Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, and winning a silver medal in the 400 meters.

Olympic 1,500-meter champion Grant Hackett was a distant second Saturday in 3:45.46.