A day in the life... British Sailing Team Physiotherapist 

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Lily Devine is lead physiotherapist for the British Sailing Team.  She has worked with the team for over three years and during a break in her busy schedule we asked a few questions about her job, how she got started and what it is she loves about her work…

What exactly does your job as lead physiotherapist for the British Sailing Team involve?

It’s my role to ensure that the sailors are in as best physical condition as possible, so that they can sail the last race of a regatta the same as the first race.   It’s about trying to prevent any injuries from occurring, and where this isn’t possible, getting the injuries fixed as quickly as possible, to minimise the amount of time off the water.        

Lily Devine, team physio

Why did you choose a career in the marine world?

I’ve been a physio for 13 years, and worked in lots of different sports. An opportunity to work with the British Sailing Team came up and I took it as they are one of the top British Olympic and Paralympic sports.  

How long have you been in the role and how did you get started?

I started working with British Sailing Team in February 2012.  

I qualified as a physio in 2002 and like most physios I worked for four years in the NHS, getting my basic training and development done.  Alongside this I did lots of volunteer and evening work with small sporting teams to build up my experience.  

In 2005/06 I got a bit of a break and got a job with Saracens RFC where I looked after the academy. After the 2008 Olympics and Paralympics I knew I wanted to be involved in Olympic and Paralympic sport and was lucky enough to get a job working for the English Institute of Sport, where I worked with Great Britain Rowing, and then UK Athletics before moving to the British Sailing Team.   

Did you have to do any special qualifications to get a job in this area and how did it help you in developing your career?

You need a degree in Physiotherapy and preferably some post graduate education or development in Sport Physiotherapy.  

What do you love about your job?

I love working with the best sailors in the world, and an incredibly dedicated support team who are always trying to improve the service that we offer.  

What has been your favourite aspect of your job so far and why?

The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games!  It was an amazing experience, for the country and for me both personally and professionally.  

Lily Devine, team physio

What are the biggest challenges in your job?

For me it has to be the travel – we travel a lot and that can be difficult for lots of reasons, but primarily it’s a challenge trying to provide the same level of support that we do at home when we are away on the road.  Plus I miss home when I am away!  

What are your top tips for someone thinking about getting a career in this area?

  • Do your physio degree and learn as much as you can
  • Try and get as much experience/exposure sports physiotherapy as you can – volunteering, shadowing etc.
  • Work hard! 

What kind of skills do people need if thinking about a career in this area?

You need to be a good listener and be able to apply your knowledge and skill set in a practical way – that makes people feel better.  You must be able to work hard and stay calm in stressful situations.  It’s important to have fun and smile when it gets tough!    

Describe a typical day for you as physiotherapist?

It’s different depending on whether I am working from our Performance Unit in Portland or travelling away. When I am away at a regatta, for example, this is my day:    

  • Early morning and a bit of exercise
  • Walk to the boat park and touch base with all the athletes and coaches and check they are OK. 
  • Pre-sailing warm up exercises with the sailors
  • Some individual treatment or pre-sailing taping for those who require it.
  • Lunch
  • Touch base with other support staff and sailors not at this competition – ensure everyone is ok 
  • Bit of admin – emails, medical notes, project work, reading (you can always learn something)
  • When people come off the water, post sailing treatment and post sailing recovery options including massage, stretching etc.
  • Dinner and then bed!

Get ready to do it all again the following day!