The Odd Thing Winston Churchill Ended Up Doing With A Shark

Winston Churchill, as Britannica reports, was no flawless hero. Before, during, and after both World Wars, he made some highly controversial decisions (his support for the disastrous Gallipoli attack of 1915-16 for instance) that proved very damaging and costly. Nevertheless, he is remembered as the portly Prime Minister who inspired his nation and bolstered the Allies to victory in World War II.

Though he was well known for his passionate speeches, his love of cigars, and his incredible stubbornness, there are some quirks of Winston Churchill that no history class will enlighten anybody on. Here's the story of an unusual swimming habit of his that saw him cross paths with a shark.

The International Churchill Society reports that Winston was a keen swimmer, often enjoying a dip while on vacations and reveling in the luxury of a heated swimming pool while at home in Britain. There's nothing unusual in that, but Churchill, as notable a public figure as he was, wasn't afraid to indulge in a bit of skinny dipping either.

When the British Prime Minister swam with a shark

In the winter of 1941, per Mental Floss, he was in the United States on official business. As the new year rolled around, business turned to pleasure and he arrived in Florida's much-ballyhooed Palm Beach. Here, too, he felt the irresistible urge to take a swim in the ocean but apparently felt no such urge to don any swimwear before stripping off and doing just that.

Needless to say, the British Prime Minister bobbing around in the sea completely naked isn't the sort of thing fellow beachgoers would happen to see every day, but Churchill was supremely unconcerned about such trivial matters. According to Mental Floss, he responded to his bodyguard's concerns with his trademark wit. If people were that desperate to catch a glimpse of him, he reportedly said, "it is their own fault what they see."

He was not so flippant, however, when a curious shark appeared. The Prime Minister was in no danger, he later wrote in his memoirs (per Life magazine), as he was told that it was merely a species of "ground shark." Nonetheless, he reasoned later, it is no better "to be eaten by a ground shark as by any other," and he decided against venturing very deep into the water after that.