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LOS ANGELES – Long-distance swimmer Steven Robles, recovering from an attack by a great white shark crazed by a fisherman's hook, says he swam into the wrong place at the wrong time.

"I'm still pretty shaken up. I'm still rattled, my nerves are still shaky," Robles said as he recovered at his Lomita, Calif., home after the Saturday morning attack while swimming in the ocean off Manhattan Beach.

The 7-foot-long juvenile shark had been hooked on a fishing line and had battled for 30 to 40 minutes before biting into Robles' hand and chest. The popular beach south of Los Angeles was crowded for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

He said the agitated shark bit into him in an instant, and he stared eyeball to eyeball with the animal.

"The shark came right up to me, bit right into my torso area. He penetrated the first layer of my skin and into my fat tissue," he told CBS Los Angeles. "And somehow I had enough sense to grab his nose with my right hand and pry him off my body."

"I was in the wrong spot at the wrong time,'' Robles said. "The shark was agitated, and I was the first thing he saw.''

Robles, a real estate agent, said he was on a regular Saturday morning swim with a group of 14 long-distance swimmers, training for an upcoming meet. He said he was "absolutely terrified'' and "I thought this might be it.''

"It came up to the surface, it looked at me and attacked me right on the side of my chest," Robles told KABC-TV. "That all happened within two seconds, I saw the eyes of the shark as I was seeing it swim toward me. It lunged at my chest, and it locked into my chest.

"I'm very experienced out in the ocean. I've swum my whole life. Because...I'm a strong swimmer, I was able to sustain myself in the water while this injury was going on," Robles said.

His friends came to his aid, and a nearby paddler helped him onto a long surfboard and to shore. He was released after hospital treatment, his right hand in a cast and stitches on the right side of his chest.

He said the fisherman on the pier made "a horrible decision'' to keep working the animal before finally cutting the line. Fishing for great white sharks is illegal, and authorities closed the Manhattan Beach pier to fishing until Tuesday.

Officials said it was unusual for a great white shark to swim so close to shore. CBS Los Angeles quoted the fisherman, who was not named, as saying he was using small sardine as bait and was not using chum, or bloody fish parts, to attract sharks.

Authorities at the scene concluded that the fishermen had done nothing illegal, Inspector Rick Flores of the L.A. County Fire Department, which manages the lifeguard division, told the Los Angeles Times.

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