Chandler was a championship diver from childhood. In 1972, when she was 12, she was named the best female athlete in any sport in the United States Junior Olympics program. In 1973, she won two 13-14-year-old world age-group diving championships in Belgium then finished eighth competing against adults in the 3-meter springboard at the World Aquatics championships in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, that fall.
In April 1974, Chandler won the 3-meter springboard at the AAU national indoor championships. Overall, she was a seven-time national diving champion. Chandler won indoor national championships in the 3-meter springboard again in 1976 and 1978. She was outdoor national champion in the 3-meter springboard in 1978. She captured the 1-meter springboard indoor title in 1975 and the 1-meter outdoor title in 1977.
At the Pan-American games in 1975, Chandler won the gold medal in the 3-meter springboard.
Chandler reached the pinnacle of success in her sport when she won the 3-meter springboard gold medal at the 1976 Olympics as a 17-year old. She is the last American to win the Olympic women’s 3-meter springboard event.
In 1978, Chandler won the 3-meter springboard in the USA-USSR dual meet, moving from second to first on her final dive. Later that year, she was named to the AAU All-America diving team after winning two of the six women’s diving titles at the AAU national diving championships.
Chandler earned a place on the 1980 United States Olympic team but was unable to defend her 1976 Olympic title when the United States did not participate in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. A back injury led to her retirement from diving when she was 21.
Chandler was elected to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1985. In 1987, she became a member of the International Swimming and Diving Hall of Fame. Since 2003, Chandler has been director of outreach programs for the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.