shark_attack_ california_beach_2014

On Saturday, a 7-foot-long shark near Manhattan Beach, California, became agitated by a fisherman’s hook. It apparently took out its frustration on Robles, who was swimming nearby.

“He just swam right at me and when he lunged into my chest, I could feel his whole body vibrating,” says Robles, who is an open-water swimmer and completed a 24-mile swim from Catalina Island to Palos Verdes last year. “It happened so quick. I was very scared. It was burning pain. … I was staring at this shark eyeball-to-eyeball with its teeth on the side of my rib cage.”

“The bite mark’s like a jellyfish sting that just keeps penetrating deeper and deeper into the bone,” Robles said. “It was terrifying.”

He grabbed the shark’s nose with his hand and tried to pry him off. Fortunately, the shark left on his own and darted away.

“I immediately started screaming, and about three swimmers who were five strokes behind me came up and helped me get to shore,” he says. “A paddler showed up and got me on his longboard and paramedics and lifeguards were waiting.”

Robles – who’s been swimming that shoreline “his entire life” – is now back home recovering and feeling very lucky.

“Fortunately, the bite didn’t go into any organs and I didn’t crack any ribs,” he says. “I’m very thankful I’m alive. This absolutely could have been it. I was given a second chance, and this is Day One of a new life.”

Just before the attack, Robles said he was planning another long-distance swim. But now he says he might never swim in the open water again.