HONOLULU The shark bit into Jonathan Genant's left hand, then swam off. The swimmer gripped the wrist of his injured arm to slow the blood loss, flipped on his back and began to kick. But without the use of his arms, he could only drift.
Then it hit him: Would the shark come back?
"Help! Help!" Genant began yelling. Bodyboarders swam him back to Keawakapu Beach.
Genant, 29, a former triathlete, told the Associated Press in an interview Thursday he often thought about how vulnerable he would be if a shark spotted him as he trained far from shore.
"If he had taken another strike at me, I wouldn't be here today," said Genant, who lost his left pinky and part of his ring finger when he was bit by the shark Wednesday morning.
The San Diego-based Web designer was alone when the shark attacked about 200 yards from the coast.
Fire Battalion Chief Alan Pascua said a helicopter had spotted a 10- to 12-foot tiger shark in the area.
Genant said he saw a white shadow moving underneath him. The shape turned gray when the shark turned upright on its belly and headed toward him, he said.
The animal opened its jaw. For a split second, Genant said he considered fending it off with a blow to the nose, but the shark's mouth was too big and a punch would have plunged his arm directly into a row of sharp teeth.
Lifeguards closed the beach after the attack. It was the first shark attack in Hawaii resulting in injury since October 2004 when a man was bitten while spearfishing off Molokai.
Genant spent Wednesday night at a hospital. He said Thursday he feels a little pain and his hand is wrapped in bandages.
"It really was an incredible creature as frightening as it is," Genant said. "It was his domain, and he was the boss, he was going to decide my fate I'm lucky to get away as I did."