Doctors credit fitness for helping California woman survive shark attack

LOS ANGELES A woman bitten by a shark off the coast of Southern California suffered a single chomp from her shoulder to her pelvis and survived largely because she was physically fit enough to tread water until she was rescued, doctors said on Tuesday.

The victim, identified by medical officials as 52-year-old Maria Korcsmaros, was pulled from the Pacific Ocean by lifeguards on a patrol boat on Sunday about 150 yards (meters) off the shore of Newport Beach after she was seen in distress, said Mary Locey, a spokeswoman for the city.

Korcsmaros was training for an Ironman triathlon when she was attacked by the shark on Sunday and doctors have credited her physical fitness for her survival, said Kelsey Eiben, a spokeswoman for Orange County Global Medical Center where the woman is being treated.

The mother of three did not go into shock after the attack, Eiben said.

“She was able to tread water and hold her own until help arrived and that’s pretty remarkable,” Dr. Philip Rotter, a physician at the hospital, told a news conference.

Korcsmaros, who lives in Southern California, is expected to survive and is listed in stable condition, Eiben said.

The shark attack occurred during the Memorial Day weekend, which signals the unofficial start of summer vacation season in the United States.

It followed last year’s record 98 shark attacks, a figure that is expected to increase this year due to a rise in shark populations from historic lows in the 1990s and other factors, according to the Shark Attack File at the University of Florida.

Korecsmaros is a personal trainer and aerobics instructor, according to her LinkedIn page.

“She seems like a very strong lady, she’s remarkably calm,” Dr. Humberto Sauri, medical director of trauma services at Orange County Global Medical Center, told reporters.

Doctors will seek to prevent any infections from the bite, which they said left teeth marks from Korecsmaros’ shoulder to her pelvis.

It was not immediately clear what type of shark bit Korecsmaros.

Great white sharks are known to hunt off the coast of California, but they generally do not attack people and shark attacks in general are rare events worldwide.

Also on Sunday, a 13-year-old boy was bitten by a shark on the right leg in Neptune, Florida, east of Jacksonville. He was expected to survive, according to local media.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Sandra Maler)

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