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Shark victim 'went in a happy state of mind'

Christine Armstrong's husband says she wouldn't have known a thing about the attack, which he believes was by a bronze whaler shark. Nine News.

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The husband of Christine Armstrong has spoken publicly for the first time since she was killed by a shark swimming at Tathra beach on Thursday morning, assuring friends she died quickly and doing something that she loved.

Rob Armstrong said his wife of 44 years was in an "extremely happy" state after returning from a trip to New Zealand.

Rob Armstrong, husband of Christine, takes a moment to make a statement and thank the media for their discretion over the incident.

Rob Armstrong, husband of Christine, takes a moment to make a statement and thank the media for their discretion over the incident. Photo: Graham Tidy

"Her friends need to know I am absolutely positively certain with all my experience that she wouldn't have even known what hit her," he said.

"The shark was such a size and it's consumed her basically completely ... she wouldn't have even known what happened."

Mr Armstrong said messages of support had been coming from far and wide since the attack.

Flowers rest on the front verandah of the Tathra SLSC club rooms. Click for more photos

Tathra fatal shark attack

Flowers rest on the front verandah of the Tathra SLSC club rooms. Photo: Graham Tidy

"The reason is not because of the shark attack, it's because Chris only knew one way in life and that was love, and everyone loved her.

"I've never heard her say a bad word about anybody in her life ... she's a very special sort of person," he said.

"When we came here, we used to swim at Cottesloe prior to coming here, every morning and when we got here, everyone thought we were mad because we swum through winter and now we have this huge group of absolutely wonderful people.

"It's a support group, it's a loving group, it's something that's really quite special and unique and Chris was a critical part of that."

Mr Armstrong was swimming with his wife and four others from the beach to the wharf and back, with Chris only swimming halfway there as she was sore from the recent flight from NZ.

He spoke of the concern he held for his friends when he saw a large bronze whaler shark, assuming his wife was already safely ashore.

"On the way back I saw a bird swoop me and immediately knew something was going on because of the birds so I stopped," he said. 

"There was a large three to four metre bronze whaler lying on top of the water, clearly visible, birds all around it.

"My immediate concern was for my friends. Mary, who's my 70-year-old dear, dear friend was swimming straight for it, and Patrick, so we got them together and formed a barrier.

"[We] couldn't find Colleen, I hoped everything was OK, I was panic-stricken for Colleen and then as we got closer to the beach I could see Colleen emerging from the water ... we thought everything was safe so we hugged each other - and then we found Chris wasn't in the change rooms."

The swimmers took a boat out to start their search, and quickly found "evidence that Chris is no more".

Mr Armstrong was emotional when asked how he was coping after the loss.

"Not good," he said.

"But we made a pact, me and Chris many years ago that if ever one of us went, we would live on and it's my duty to show respect to Chris and make sure I live as full a life as possible."