Australian swimming legend Ian Thorpe said on Wednesday he aims to compete in next year's London Olympics and is not disappointed by a recent string of slow performances during his comeback.
Thorpe, 29, announced his return to the pool in February after retiring in 2006 due to what he said was a loss of privacy in his life and training.
"I'm not disappointed at all. I expected my first race wouldn't be that fast and that's what it was," Thorpe told a press conference marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between South Korea and Australia.
Thorpe, who faces a selection trial for the Australian Olympic team in March, failed to make the podium at meets this month in Singapore, Beijing and Tokyo.
"It's pretty natural for anyone who has spent any time out of the pool, let alone how long I've spent. So my performance is on track, where I'd like to head...and technically, I'm swimming better," he said.
The five-time Olympic gold medallist, dubbed "Thorpedo" by fans, didn't hide the difficulties he is facing with his comeback, likening it to restarting a car after five years.
"It doesn't matter how good the car is, it's still going to be difficult and I'm experiencing this," he said.
"There are...some things I need to improve on, but I think most importantly, I rediscovered love and passion for the sport. I don't think I can underestimate the value of that."
Thorpe stunned the swimming world when he retired at age 24.
"At that time, I didn't think I'd compete again...so I surprised myself that I wanted to do this," he said, adding he had witnessed incredible progress in swimming during his retirement.
"What's fantastic about this progression is that it's from all over the world. It's not one or two countries...but it's really spreading throughout the world."
Money is not the reason for his return, he said. "I can't motivate myself to just get up early for money. It doesn't work...I'm only able to do this because I found my passion."