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South African actress Charlize Theron has recalled her childhood terror fleeing from sharks at a beach where surfer Mick Fanning was attacked by a Great White.

Fanning hit headlines around the world when he bravely fought off the shark on live TV during the final of a world surfing tour event at Jeffreys Bay, South Africa.

Now Theron, who often took trips Jeffreys Bay with her family as a young girl, has recalled how the waters were often packed with sharks.

“It’s a place I used to go as a kid on summer vacations. We had a house (nearby). As a kid we would swim in the ocean and you would hear … the lifeguards blowing on their whistles and all the kids would just run out of the water.

“We would just stand there … and we would watch the shark swim all the way (out of the bay) and then the whistle would go off again. And we would just run back into the water,” Theron told USA Today.